TeeJaw Blog

Erin Brockovich Cried But Nobody Died Because It Was All An Hysterical Over Production

Posted in Culture Rot by TeeJaw on Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 9: 41 AM

Where Does Pacific Gas & Electric go to get its $333 Million back? That’s the amount it paid to settle the famous (now infamous) Erin Brockovich class-action suit in 1996. The California utility company released a plume of hexavalent chromium 6 from a Hinkley-based natural gas pipeline station that was supposed to be a toxic cancer-causing agent that would sicken thousands and kill many of them. But the California Cancer Registry has now completed three studies that show cancer rates remained unremarkable in and around Hinkley from 1988 to 2008.

The plume was real and it’s still there. In fact, it’s growing. But it’s apparently not giving anyone cancer or making them any sicker than they would be if they lived anywhere else. If Pacific Gas and Electric’s negligence is responsible for the plume it should of course be held accountable and should pay for any damages that occur. But any fool should be able to distinguish between the justice of making a tortfeasor pay for what it did and the injustice of allowing opportunists like Erin Brockovich to get rich and famous by whipping up mass hysteria in order to stick it to the defendant for massive and imaginary wrongs.

This story appears to be playing out just as anyone familiar with mass hysteria and loathing could have predicted because it is so similar to how these things usually go. Remember the hysteria of Love Canal? If you lived there you thought your children were going to glow in the dark. Turns out that the Love Canal community’s sickness rates measured over several years after all the hoopla were also unremarkable.

Mass hysteria is never a good thing and always predicts results that seldom come to pass. A simple truth of life. Likewise the hysteria over Three Mile Island. Nobody died or even got sick and that nuclear power plant hums along today delivering cheap clean energy to thousands of Pennsylvanians.

Of course, there is one example of a real environmental disaster that killed a lot of people. But it was not in the U.S. it was at Chernobyl, in the Soviet Union.

UPDATE: Who really paid the $333 Million settlement in the Erin Brockovich affair? The utility customers of Pacific Gas & Electric, of course. Corporation don’t pay damages or taxes or anything else. Their customers and shareholders do. Do you think the class action would have gone as well for Erin Brockovich if it were more widely understood that she was not holding a nasty corporate malfeasant to account, but was in reality ripping off thousands of other citizens? Who’s the real bad guy here?

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