"Pollution Issue Divides Desert Town as Deadline Nears"

"Residents of Hinkley, made famous by 'Erin Brockovich,' weigh an offer by PG&E to buy homes near chromium-tainted water. Animosity is high between residents wanting to sell and those opting to stay."

"The high desert town of Hinkley is being torn apart, neighbor by neighbor, as homeowners grapple with a plume of carcinogenic pollution made famous by a Hollywood movie.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co., which is responsible for the pollution, has given homeowners until Monday to decide whether to sell their homes. PG&E has offered to buy out 314 homeowners who live within a mile of the chromium-tainted plume of groundwater.

Those accepting the offer are angering neighbors because the vacated homes are eroding an isolated ranching community of 800 people already edging toward ghost town.

Even worse, in the eyes of some, is that anyone who sells would not participate in legal actions against PG&E, weakening the hand of homeowners who believe a large, united front gives them the best chance of a big payout from a pending lawsuit against the company.

Homeowners who stay put will have a water treatment system installed by PG&E at no charge."

Louis Sahagun reports for the Los Angeles Times October 14, 2012.

Source: LA Times, 10/15/2012