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Oak Hills Water May Increase Cancer Risk

UPDATE: The Oak Hill Municipal Advisory Council is having their meeting on Tuesday, January 19th at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will be located at The Oak Hills Community Center (Old Fire Station 40, across from Shed World) 6584 Caliente Road in Oak Hills. Steve Samaras, the Acting Deputy Director of the Special District Department Water and Sanitation Division will be in attendance. All Oak Hills residents are encouraged to attend and will be welcomed to ask questions regarding Oak Hills water or any other Oak Hills related concerns.

OAK HILLS, California: ( On January 8, 2016, Oak Hills residents were informed by the Special District Department Water and Sanitation Division that the levels of Hexavalent Chromium were tested to be above the drinking water standard.

Chromium is a heavy metal that occurs throughout the environment. The Trivalent form is a required nutrient and has very low toxicity. The Hexavalent form, also commonly known as Chromium-6, is more toxic and has been known to cause cancer when inhaled.

In recent scientific studies in laboratory animals, Hexavalent Chromium has also been linked to cancer when ingested.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH) said that the public concern about the safety of the drinking water became more prevalent when the movie Erin Brockovich, which starred Julia Roberts, surfaced in the year 2000.

The movie depicts Roberts playing the role of Erin Brockovich, who began digging into a real estate case and found evidence that the groundwater in Hinkley was seriously contaminated with carcinogenic Hexavalent chromium.

It became known that PG&E used the chemical to prevent rusting in their compressor stations between the years of 1952-1966 and dumped water containing the toxic chemical into unlined ponds. The infected waters began seeping into the ground and created large plumes that contaminated water wells.

Despite PG&E telling Hinkley residents that they used a safer form of chromium, the utility giant was forced to pay out the largest toxic tort injury settlement in U.S. history: $333 million in damages to more than 600 Hinkley residents, making the settlement the largest direct action lawsuit of its kind.

At the time, the average level of Hexavalent Chromium starting 1952 to the beginning of the lawsuit was 1.19 parts-per-billion with the peak at about 20 parts per billion (micrograms per liter). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set the maximum containment level of 100 parts per billion, but in 2014 California set the standard of only 10 parts per billion for Hexavalent Chromium. This standard does not include other Chromium.

The sample the Special District Department Water and Sanitation Division collected on October 6, 2015, was found to have Hexavalent Chromium levels of 18-23 parts per billion (micrograms per liter). The compliance is, according to the Special District Department of Water and Sanitation measured on a “Running Annual Average (RAA), which for the 4th quarter of 2015 (October to December 2015) was 18 parts per billion.

For now, the department is required to warn those that may be or may have been exposed. All must receive notification within 10 days of the notice including school employees, students, and parents of the students if minors. They must also inform residential rental property owners or managers, this includes nursing homes and care facilities. Business property owners, managers, and operators must notify those employed at those facilities.

The Special District Department Water and Sanitation Division said they are  looking into treatment methods and alternative sources to resolve the problem in a timely manner.

The department also stated that there is no need to find an alternative water supply and it is not an emergency. However, some people who drink water containing Chromium in excess of the MCL over many years may have an increased risk of getting cancer. 

Oak Hills Drinking Water

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