Erin Brockovich

Infobox Person
name = Erin Brockovich



image_size = 240px
birth_date = birth date and age|1960|6|22
birth_place = Lawrence, Kansas, United States
occupation = President, Brockovich Research & Consulting [http://www.brockovich.com/bio.htm, (accessed January 17, 2008).]
spouse = Shawn Brown (1982-1987)
Steven Brockovich (1989-1990)
Eric L. Ellis (1999-)

Erin Brockovich-Ellis (born June 28, 1960) is an American legal clerk and environmental activist who, despite the lack of a formal law school education, was instrumental in constructing a case against the $28 billion Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), of California in 1993. Since the release of the movie that shares her story and name, she has hosted Challenge America with Erin Brockovich on ABC and Final Justice on Lifetime. She is the president of Brockovich Research & Consulting, a consulting firm. She is currently working as a consultant for the New York law firm Weitz & Luxenberg, which has a focus on personal injury claims for asbestos exposure. [http://www.abajournal.com/news/erin_brockovich_signs_on_with_nyc_law_firm]

Biography

Background

Brockovich was born Erin L. E. Pattee in Lawrence, Kansas to Frank Pattee, an industrial engineer and Betty Jo O'Neal-Pattee, a journalist. She attended Lawrence High School then Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. She worked as a management trainee for Kmart in 1981 but quit after a few months and entered some potentially lucrative beauty pageants. After winning Miss Pacific Coast in 1981, she soon gave up pageant life because she found it shallow. She has lived in California since 1982.

Brockovich was involved in a car accident in Reno and was seriously injured. Her case was settled out of court for $50,000.

Brockovich received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa Degree and was Commencement Speaker at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles on May 5, 2007. [http://www.brockovich.com/bio.htm]

Pacific Gas litigation

The case alleged contamination of drinking water with hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium (VI), in the southern California town of Hinkley. At the center of the case is a facility called the Hinkley Compressor Station, part of a natural gas pipeline connecting to the San Francisco Bay Area and constructed in 1952. Between 1952 and 1966, PG&E used hexavalent chromium to fight corrosion in the cooling tower. The wastewater dissolved the hexavalent chromium from the cooling towers and was discharged to unlined ponds at the site. Some of the wastewater percolated into the groundwater affecting an approximately two miles long and nearly a mile wide area near the plant. [ [http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/rwqcb6/water_issues/projects/pge/index.shtml PG&E Hinkley Chromium Cleanup] California Environmental Protection Agency, 9/10/08] The case was settled in 1996 for $333 million, the largest settlement ever paid in a direct action lawsuit in U.S. history.

Chromium (VI) is known to be toxic and carcinogenic, [David Blowes, "Tracking Hexavalent Cr in Groundwater," "Science" 295: 2024 - 25 (Mar. 15, 2002).] and the 0.58 ppm in the groundwater in Hinkley exceeded the Maximum Contaminant Level of 0.10 ppm currently set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. [ [http://www.epa.gov/safewater/dwh/c-ioc/chromium.html U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Consumer Factsheet on: CHROMIUM.] ] However, while it has long been known that chromium (VI) is carcinogenic when ingested via inhalation, drinking water laced with chromium (VI) is widely believed to be less toxic; some experts argue that the exposures at Hinkley were too low to cause health effects, while others respond that there were too many gaps in the data on chromium to dismiss the Hinkley residents' case. [ [http://www.ehponline.org/docs/2000/108-9/focus.pdf Cheryl Pellerin & Susan M. Booker, "Reflections on Hexavalent Chromium: Health Hazards of an Industrial Heavyweight," "Environmental Health Perspectives" 108: A402 - A407 (Sept. 2000).] ] When Harvard's School of Public Health gave Brockovich an award in 2005, scientists were divided on the merits of her work. ["Toxic award?" "Science" 310: 229 (Oct. 14, 2005).] National Institutes of Health researchers announced May 16, 2007 there is strong evidence that hexavalent chromium causes cancer in laboratory animals when it is consumed in drinking water. The two-year study conducted by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) [http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/] shows that animals given hexavalent chromium for three months developed malignant tumors on their pituitary gland. [ [http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/htdocs/ST_rpts/TOX72.pdf NTP Report on Sodium Dichromate Dihydrate (CAS No. 7789-12-0) Administered in Drinking Water to Male and Female F344/N Rats and B6C3F1 Mice and Male BALB/c and am3-C57BL/6 Mice] ] The report warns that extrapolation of these results to other species, including characterization of hazards and risks to humans, requires analyses beyond the intent of the report. Nevertheless, health care professionals agree that the current data on Chromium (VI) are sufficient to justify strict legal limits on the hexavalent Cr concentration in water, and that neglect of these limits imposes a major health threat on the affected population.

Working with Thousand Oaks, California-based lawyer Edward L. Masry, Brockovich went on to participate in other anti-pollution lawsuits. One accuses Whitman Corporation of chromium contamination in Willits, California. Another lawsuit, which lists 1,200 plaintiffs, alleges contamination near PG&E's Kettleman Hills Compressor Station in Kings County, California, along the same pipeline as the Hinkley site. The Kettleman suit settled for $335 million in 2006. After experiencing problems with mold contamination in her own home in the Conejo Valley, Brockovich became a prominent activist and educator in this area as well. Today, Brockovich is a noted speaker in demand for U.S. and international speaking engagements.

Biopic

Her story is the topic of a feature film, "Erin Brockovich", starring Julia Roberts in the title role. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Writing in a Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. Roberts won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Erin Brockovich. Erin Brockovich herself had a cameo role as a waitress named Julia (in reference to Julia Roberts playing Erin).

References

External links

* [http://www.brockovich.com Official Site of Erin Brockovich]
* [http://www.brockovichblog.com/ The Brockovich Report - BrockovichBlog.com]
* [http://myspace.com/erin_brockovich Official MySpace of Erin Brockovich]
* [http://www.thebiographychannel.co.uk/biography_story/1564:1812/1/Erin_Brockovich.htm Erin Brockovich] biography on the Biography Channel
*imdb name|id=0004777
* [http://www.climatechangecoalition.com.au/main.php?pg=erinBrockovich " Evening with Erin Brockovich" in Sydney, hosted by the "Climate Change Coalition" 2007]
* [http://www.lawbuzz.com/famous_trials/erin_brockovich/erin_brockovich_ch1.htm Detail about Hinkley case] at lawbuzz.com
* [http://archive.salon.com/ent/feature/2000/04/14/sharp/index.html?pn=5 Did Hinkley Residents Really Win?] at salon.com


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