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Erin Brockovich, chromium and cancer

The potential risk posed by chromium 6 in drinking water has become a topic of heated debate since the 1990s, when legal clerk Erin Brockovich discovered evidence that the carcinogen had leaked from a Pacific Gas & Electric natural-gas plant into the groundwater in Hinkley, Calif.
BY Michael Baker Published: December 26, 2010

Officials at the California Cancer Registry conducted a survey earlier this year, finding less than expected number of cancers among residents of the census tract that includes Hinkley. From 1996 to 2008, officials identified 196 cancers — a slightly lower number than the 224 cancers that would have been expected given the size and population of the area, California Department of Public Health spokesman Ken August said.

“They have done three assessments now of the census track that includes Hinkley and have found no excess in the number of cancers,” he said.

The surveys did not attempt to look at a link between chromium 6 and cancer or any other reason for the cases it detected, August said. “This is just simply looking at is there an excess number of cases of cancer in Hinkley.”

The survey, August said, doesn't change California's conclusion formed when “Erin Brockovich” was released: “Chromium 6 is still a drinking water contaminant and should be removed.”