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PG&E May Buy Hinkley Homes Above Toxic Plume

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A pipe is one of the few signs that houses once stood on the property where Pacific Gas & Electric bought and razed them after the company was found to have polluted the ground water with cancer-causing hexavalent chromium for 30 years July 19, 2001 in the Mojave Desert town of Hinkley, CA, west of Barstow. Health officials are now testing the area for airborne chromium pollution. Health officials are now testing the area for airborne chromium pollution. The community''s pollution struggle inspired the movie "Erin Brockovich." (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)(credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

A pipe is one of the few signs that houses once stood on the property where Pacific Gas & Electric bought and razed them after the company was found to have polluted the ground water with cancer-causing hexavalent chromium for 30 years July 19, 2001 in the Mojave Desert town of Hinkley, CA, west of Barstow. Health officials are now testing the area for airborne chromium pollution. Health officials are now testing the area for airborne chromium pollution. The community”s pollution struggle inspired the movie “Erin Brockovich.” (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)(credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

HINKLEY (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has proposed buying up to 100 properties, including homes, in a California desert town where a spreading toxic plume is contaminating groundwater with cancer-causing chrominum 6.

The Mojave Desert farming community of Hinkley got national attention in the 2000 movie “Erin Brockovich,” which focused on PG&E’s $333 million settlement with more than 600 Hinkley over chromium contamination.

The San Francisco-based utility told residents of the farming community 13 miles west of Barstow that it is expanding its property purchase program because the 2 1/2-mile long, 1-mile wide plume is spreading.

PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith said Friday that letters were sent Wednesday to property owners. He says the utility wants to talk to them at this point.

The San Bernardino County Sun says PG&E may buy homes or land that sit over the plume, where chromium levels exceed 3.1 parts per billion.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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