Skip to comments.Green (money) Lobby Holds Property Values Hostage in Hinckley, CA
Posted on 09/08/2012 7:47:28 AM PDT by WayneLusvardi
In Hinckley, California, it is reportedly hard to separate a chemical compound called chromium 6 from a contaminated underground water basin called a toxic plume.
And it is equally hard to separate out whether it is unsalable homes in Hinckley due to the depressed economy that is the problem or whether it is the so-called toxic substance of chromium 6 in the drinking water from wells that presents a health hazard.
Hinckley is a semi-rural desert area located near the City of Barstow and has 588 households as of the 2010 census.
The Infamous Erin Brockovich Case
The Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) natural gas line compressor station at Hinckley used chromium 6 in its cooling towers. It dumped the wastewater into the ground starting back in the 1950s.
In 1996, PG&E paid a $333 million legal settlement for medical claims of Hinckley residents due to alleged health effects from chromium 6. But the law firm of Masry and Vititoe walked off with forty percent or $143 million of the settlement proceeds. About 828 victims got about $350,000 each, on average. But there was no relief provided for impacts to property values. This court case was made into the highly fictionalized Erin Brockovich movie that glorified toxic tort lawyers.
The $333 million would have reflected about $497,000 per dwelling unit, based on 670 households in 2000, according to the U.S. Census. The typical home value in Hinckley has dropped from $145,000 to $70,000 since 2008, according to Zillow.com. List prices for vacant land vary widely from about $1,500 to $10,000 per acre, mostly depending on size.
Few have been concerned in Hinckley about the health dangers of chromium 6 since the 1996 court settlement until the market demand for ranch properties in the California desert dropped beginning in 2008.
(Excerpt) Read more at calwatchdog.com ...
There are lots and lots of places around the US where the ground water contains natural and artificial chemicals at unsafe levels.
The artificial chemicals may be somewhat easier to deal with, as they usually have a single point of origin, forming a bloom that travels outward from that point.
A way to deal with this problem might be with a “standard” nuclear water purification system.
Several companies are actively building small, self contained nuclear reactors that need minimal maintenance but produce large amounts of electricity for a given number of years. Some models are about the size of a large steel shipping container.
To start with, a large well is dug as close as possible to the point of contamination origin. Water containing the contaminant will be pumped up from this site, then put through a distillation process for nonvolatile contaminants or reverse osmosis for volatile contaminants.
But then, the distilled water will be pumped back underground in numerous smaller wells, with outlets at different depths, at the perimeter of the bloom. Thus the center of the bloom will have negative water flow, and the perimeter positive water flow.
That is, the perimeter water flow will uptake contaminants and transport them to the center to be pumped out.
Because the contamination in the center is much greater than at the perimeter, doing it this way will be the fastest means of reducing the levels of contamination to acceptable levels.
Importantly, since until the ground wells in the area cannot be used for potable water until the contamination is reduced, the perimeter wells might have additional, but harmless, chemicals added to the water, like activated charcoal, that will speed up the decontamination process by helping to absorb or neutralize contaminants that are to be pumped out.
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