HINKLEY • After receiving public feedback that solutions proposed by Pacific Gas and Electric would take too long, the company will be required to submit another solution to the chromium 6 contamination in Hinkley in order to ensure the fastest cleanup possible, Lahontan water board officials announced Tuesday.
PG&E was required by the water board to complete a study that listed different solutions to the chromium 6 contamination in Hinkley. All solutions proposed by the utility company will take more than 100 years in order to get the chromium 6 contamination down to the maximum level for the chemical naturally occurring in the area. In order to get the chromium 6 levels down to the average amount found in the area, PG&E estimates that it will take nearly 200 years for even the fastest treatment.
Residents of Hinkley have said the proposed solutions will take too long to complete, and water board officials said they want PG&E to come up with a faster solution in order to address those concerns. The board has given PG&E until Jan. 31 to comply with its request.
"We want the public to know that we've received public comments and we really want to speed up the project timeline," said Lauri Kemper, assistant executive officer for the water board.
The water board is requesting PG&E to combine three of their proposed solutions in order to speed up the process. The proposed plan would include containing the plume by taking contaminated water and watering alfalfa through underground irrigation to change the chromium 6 to less-dangerous chromium 3. The plan would also use the injection of ethanol throughout the entire plume of contaminated water in order to convert the chromium 6 into chromium 3. The final stage of the plan would involve extracting water from the source area and treating it before returning it to the groundwater.
PG&E also wants to make sure that the chromium 6 contamination is cleaned up in the most expedient way possible, said spokesman Jeff Smith. He said the company was working with the water board in order to make sure that all of its concerns were addressed.
Although PG&E said it would comply with the orders, one Hinkley activist said that more needs to be done by the water board in order to ensure that the chromium 6 contamination is cleaned up much sooner than what PG&E has proposed. Carmela Gonzalez, a former Hinkley resident who is actively trying to help the community, said she feels PG&E should be able to clean up the chromium 6 contamination within the next 30 years.
"Since PG&E has already spent 23 years attempting cleanup at the site, it should be required to complete the entire process within 27 more years, for a total of 50 years," wrote Gonzalez in an e-mail to water board officials. "This number is reasonable and achievable. Anything less will be considered as lack of environmental justice for Hinkley residents and only profit to PG&E shareholders at our expense."
The chromium 6 contamination in Hinkley began after PG&E used the chemical to prevent rusting in cooling water for its compression tower in Hinkley in the 1950s through the 1960s. The water was discharged into unlined ponds at the site, where it began to slowly seep into the groundwater. PG&E has been ordered to clean up the contamination by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4122 or email@example.com