Guest Columnist, Paul Koberstein asks:
What do Erin Brockovich, residents of Northwest Portland and some members of the Oregon National Guard serving in Iraq all have in common? The answer is: they all have experience with hexavalent chromium, a dangerous cancer-causing chemical.
Cascadia Times is reporting on its web site (www.times.org) that ESCO, owner of two steel foundries in the Northwest Portland neighborhood, has been emitting small amounts of hexavalent chomium, also known as chrome 6, since 2005 http://www.times.org/archives/2009/chromevi.html.
Cascadia Times is also reporting that the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality had documentation of hexavalent chomium emissions at ESCO since 2005, but waited until September 2009 to release the data.
This disclosure comes on the heels of reports in The Oregonian that the Army and war contractor Kellogg, Brown & Root may have exposed hundreds of soldiers to dangerous levels of hexavalent chromium while they guarded civilian workers at a water treatment plant in Iraq (http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/09/post_10.html). Among the troops exposed are at least 292 Oregon Army National Guard soldiers, including 16 who say they were sickened by the contact.
As The Oregonian reported on September 29, “Hexavalent chromium is a corrosion fighter so toxic that an amount the size of a grain of salt in a cubic yard greatly increases the risk of leukemia and lung, stomach, brain, renal, bladder and bone cancers. “
Erin Brockovich, is the Southern California legal researcher whose efforts to help residents of a small town who were stricken with chromium 6 exposure was dramatized by the 2000 movie starring Julia Roberts in the title role.