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Year 10 Geography Assessment Task

Report on the film Erin Brockovich and the Case of the People Vs PGE
by

April Worland

on 3 April 2011

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Transcript of Year 10 Geography Assessment Task

Year 10 Geo Assessment Task! Erin Brockovich The People Vs PGE The film The film Erin Brockovich is based on the true life of Erin Brockovich (played by Julia Roberts). The film tells us about how Erin, an unemployed mother of 3, goes from being almost bankrupt to solving one of the biggest
cases in the history of the U.S.A. The Case
of the People of Hinkley and Pacific Gas and Electical (PG&E) Hinkely and Corporate. Discovering the Case The case was discovered when Erin Brockovich, an unemployed, divorced single mother of 3, was in a trouble with money due to a lawsuite with a doctor over a car accident.This loss and the fact that she was unemployed added to her stress and made her so frustrated she practically forced Edward l. Masry to employ her at his lawyer firm. The same firm that had lost her case against the doctor. During the time she worked there Erin found medical records files with real estate files and wanted to know what they were doing there. The cause of the illnesses, cancers and sickness turned out to be CROMIUM in water. Chromium comes in many different types. Straight-up chromium can do many great things for the body, Chromium 3 can also help the body but Hexavalent Chromium, or Chromium 6, (the caner-causeing chemical) can cause all sorts of problems with the body such as:
cancers
tumours
liver, heart and kidney misfunction
noise bleeds
headachs
death
and many, many more.
Erin went to the local water board to find out what type of chromium was being used and she discovered that they were in fact, using chromium 6. On december 7th 1987 officals from PG&E detected levels of Hexavalent Chromium (chromium 6) in waste water ponds and advised the state of California. What she found out led to one of the biggest settlement on record for a civil class action lawsuit. The real estate files were those of PG&E's and referred to them buying homes for over the market value costs. SO WHAT DID THE MEDICAL FILES HAVE TO DO WITH IT? Erin, unsure of why the medical records were there went to visit Donna Jenson to find out why medical papers about her and her family were with real estate papers about PG&E's land. Erin found that Donna has been suffering from fibroid tumours and her husband had been sick for a long time and the reason why their medical records were with the real estate papers was because PG&E had in fact, paid for the visits to the Dr. BUT WHY? PG&E had paid for multiple local residents to have check ups done because of chromium that PG&E had used in their faclities. The check ups said that Donna and her husbands illnesses had nothing to do with each other or the chromium.
Later it was discovered that PG&E had paid the Doctors a outstanding sum of money to lie to the residensents about there exposure to chromium. But what was Chromium? Erin went to a collage to investigate what it was and what it did to people when they were exposed to it. Chromium was used in the cooling towers in PG&E in Hinkley. As heat was generated during the compression of gas it was cooled by water that contained chromium 6. It was used as an inflamitry to stop corroding in the towers. When the water had become full of undissolved solids the water would be dumped into unlined waste water ponds.
On December 7th 1987 officals from PG&E detected & reported high levels of Chromium 6 in the waste ponds to the State of California. Records were put in the local water board for the district so that in the case PG&E got into trouble for not saying what type it was to the Sate of Califonia they can say they weren't hiding it they had just forgotten to metion it. Even though workers from the board where paid by PG&E to keep the files secret as the records stated that the levels recorded were ten times the legal limit. When the people of Hinkley started to have respiratory problems to the government (caused by the chromium 6) PG&E reported contamination of chromium and the government. PG&E Hinkley then started a program to buy houses around the area that were thought to be affected with this pollution and not long after these houses were brought 75% of them were destroyed and reported as vandalsim by PG&E. After all the records were made and homes were brought, PG&E gave out flyers to the localsabout the use of chromium. But these flyers never once informed the people of Hinkley what type of chromium it was and what the side effects were. In fact, before the flyer was issued, on 25th April 1988, PG&E met with the people of Hinkley and told them that there was 'No risk at current levels'. During this meeting PG&E even told locals they where using Chromium 3 and told them good things it can do for your body when the whole time they where using Chromium 6. After making these statements, PG&E had to fill in a Risk Assessment in which PG&E representatives responded by saying:
It was a safe place for people to live without worring about exposure to Chromium 6
People could still swim in their pools as the chemicals in the water kill any contaminats (Chromium 6)
The water supply was compleatly safe and had no toxic chemicals in it
The levels of Chromium where not over the legal limit
One offical even represented that he and his children would gladly drink their well water. All of these were FALSE! This resulted in the people of Hinkley contiuing to use groundwater, remain on contaminated properties and continue to be exposed to these dangerous levels of chromium 6. Not telling the people of Hinkley about the type of Chromium was not the only offence PG&E had made. PG&E corporate (the head of all companies) was also up for a lawsuite due to the fact if they had known about the contamination and did nothing they would be breaking several state laws. PG&E had claimed not to know about the levels of chromium but Erin suspected they had sence 1965 she just needed something to link the two. PG&E in Hinkley didn't line the ponds until 1972 and after they they did they still continued to pump chromium 6 wastewater and their failed (NOT) attempt to clean up the contamination was another crime. As well as the aditional 750,000 gallons of Chromium contaminated water they pumped every month for a further six years after lining the ponds. And just because the ponds were lined didn't mean the people of Hinkley were safe from danger. Once the chromium had been put into the unlined ponds in got into the soil and infected the groundwater and couldn't be removed or cleaned up. Inhalition of the materials that were left behind and blown away after the ponds dried out for lining caused resportaty problems. This constant exposure to the chromium 6 caused many other dangers as well but there where a lot of problems it caused with the resporaty system. THE CASE AND LAWSUITE Due to the fact that the PG&E Hinkley
or Corporate weren't going to hand
over documents about the law
breaking amounts of chromium 6
that PG&E Hinkley had used, the
case needed that one thing Erin
was looking for to link the
contamination by PG&E Hinkley to
PG&E corporate. But to investigate,
the Lawfirm that Erin worked in
needed more money and more
help or else they'd be dumped
with loads of paper work that
would stall the case and allow PG&E Hinkley to continue production. Eventually they got help and found a way to link PG&E corporate to the whole thing. This helped the case grow even more until they had a lot of the people in Hinkley to sign papers about testifing but they still needed more.
77 initial plaintiffs filed lawsuites against PG&E in 1993. As the case grew more of the people of Hinkley who drank the polluted water, and breathed the contaminated air, wanted answers. They wanted to know why they were not properly informed about it and they wanted to know what was going to happen to them and their families due to this exposure and who was going to pay for their medical expenses that this will lead to. And They Did! As the case grew and lawyers went on fighting, 648 plaintiffs joined the lawsuite. Legal teams reviewed about 1 million documents and took serveral hundreds depostions (signed reports for those who couldn't attend the case). Erin, determinded to prove PG&E corporate had something to do with it eventually got the information that would link the two, help the people win and get more money. Charles Embury a former imployee of PG&E Hinkley told Erin about PH&E Hinkley ordering him to destory paperwork about PG&E corporate receiving information on the contamination in Hinkley. But it turned out he wasn't the best employee and didn't destroy the paperwork and kept it as he thought it was important. This paperwork helped Erin and the lawyers to link PG&E corporate to the case in Hinkley and gain more support. It was no suprise that PG&E would have to pay money to the people of Hinkley but it was up to the jury to decide how much each plaintif would receive due to the fact some people could recover from their exposure. The process of going through every plaintif could cause the case to go on and continue for over 15 years and getting nowhere what-so-ever for the families already suffering the effects caused by this exposure to Chromium 6. Eventually the lawyers of PG&E met with their clients and
came to the conclusion the fact that not all the people exposed
to the high levels of chromuinm 6 weren't all sick was the only
defence they had in the case. Everything that Erin, Masry and the other lawyers had on PG&E was all true they couldn't get out of this case 'unscared'. PG&E were wrong on several counts. They didn't telll their neighbours about their use of chromium 6 or the dangers involved, they didn't stop using chromium even after they detected dangerous levels and they didn't stop after they knew it was causeing the locals problems, they lied to locals about the dangers in the water and more. Every little fact Erin and the other lawyers found out on PG&E was true. They really couldn't fight their way out of it even if they did have lots of money to play with. By September 19, 1994 the parties reached an agreement to have someone settle the case. The agreemant pulled the case out of the trial court and away from the jury, and placed it into the hands of two outstanding retired jurists, Justice John K. Trotter and Judge Daniel H. Weinstein. This was the parties way to work through the claims of more then 600 people to end the case 'Quickly and Quietly, if PG&E got a say'. But this case was very out in the public as Erin and the other lawyers wanted as much publicity as they could to gain more help. THE RESULTS OF THE CASE The case was settled in 1996 and the results said that PG&E had to:
Stop using chromium 6 in their company
Clean up the chromium 6 pollution where possible
Pay the sum of $333 million ($5 million went to Donna Jensons family) The Geography of Hinkley Hinkley is located in California, USA. Hinkley is a community in the Mojave Desert in California, U.S. It sits just north of California State Highway 58 in the county of San Bernardino. Hinkley is found at, latitude 34.935 and longitude -117.199. It has an elevation of 2,165 feet/659.9 metres. The area of Hinkley is very dry and desolate. The only flora that lived in the area were plants that thrived with very little water and rain. RANDOM FACTS ON THE FILM!!! Erin wanted to help
the people of Hinkley
gain the most help
she could by tring
amazingly hard on
the case. Erin
Brokovich, helped WIN!
And after all the hard work
Erin got her reward. $2 Million worth! -The actor who plays Erins Boyfriend, George, in the film is actually the real George who helped Erin in the real life case.
-Erin really did dress the way she does in the movie because she believed she looked nice.
-Erin really did tell the other female woman on the case 'Thats all you got, two wrong feet in Ugly shoes'
-Erin really did memorise the numbers of all of her clients and can still to this day recite them ALL.
-The real life Erin Brockovich plays the waitress in the film at the resterant in which Katie orders a Delux Cheese Burger with no cheese and no bread. THE END! BY APRIL WORLAND
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