They want the company to detail which Bay Area facilities
have used the cancer-causing chemical
Friday, November 17,2000
SAN JOSE - Erin Brockovich, whose long legal fight against Pacific Gas &
Electric Co. of San Francisco, joined another environmental challenge
against the utility company Thursday.
Brockovich and Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition called on PG&E to be
more forthright about which of its facilities in the bay Area have used
PCBs - chemicals that have been linked to cancer.
The Toxics Coalition said PCBs have been detected in San Francisco
Bay, and in San Jose streams in an experiment by high school students. The
group complained that PG&E has not given state regulators a requested
report on which of its facilities have used PCBs. The company also failed
to attend an Oct. 31 meeting on the subject.
"I appreciate their position and their frustration with PG&E,"
Brockovich said. "I have to giggle a bit, though, because I don't think
PG&E is going to roll over and provide information."
PG&E spokesman Jon Tremayne said the utility was not hiding
anything. He said the state's Regional Water Quality Control Board asked
less than two weeks ago for the report on which PG&E facilities have used
"We're more than happy to provide it to them, and we're in the
process of putting it together right now," he said. He said the company's
PCB expert missed the Oct. 31 meeting because he had to talk that same day
with an official from another state agency.
Production of PCBs, which were used to prevent oil from breaking
down, has been illegal in the United States since 1978. Thremayne said the
company does not use the chemicals anymore, though small amounts may remain
in older equipment.
In 1998, PG&E was sued by a retired employee who claimed that for
28 years, his supervisors and told him to siphon PCB-laden oil from natural
gas lines into creeks.
PG&E settled the lawsuit, and Tremayne said the company found three
places where small amounts of PCBs had gotten into the soil in creek beds,
all near valves in pipelines and probably from small leaks, no intentional
dumping. Those sites are being cleaned up Tremayne said.
Michael Stanely-Jones, a senior researcher fro the Toxic Coalition,
warned that some fish in the Bay Area could be contaminated with PCBs and
said the organization believes "PG&E is the largest user of PCBs, still, in
the bay Area."
Brockovich first took on PG&E as lead researcher in the early
1990s, investigating accusations that the company contaminated the
ground-water and sickened people in the Mojave Desert town of Hinkley. The
resulting lawsuit and $333 million settlement was the subject of the movie
in which Brockovich was portrayed by Julia Roberts.
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