Renowned environmental activist Erin Brockovich headed to Hoosick Falls in the Capital Region’s Rennsalear County this weekend to help investigate water pollution linked to a high rate of aggressive cancer among town residents. Her appearance coincides with increasing national attention on the water contamination crisis facing Flint, Michigan.
Erin Brockovich was portrayed by Julia Roberts in the 2000 movie about her life. Brockovich gained notoriety for uncovering the actions of the Pacific Gas & Electric utility in exposing residents of Hinckley, CA to highly toxic levels of hexavalent chromium. Hex six, a rust inhibitor, is also a known carcinogen. The settlement mandated by the state of California against PG&E was close to $350 million, at the time the largest settlement of its kind.
Brockovich call the Flint case “just the tip of the iceberg.”
Appearing on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert this week, Brockovich call the Flint case “just the tip of the iceberg” for water contamination cases nationwide. And the financial costs of damage to residents of Hinckley, Hoosick Falls, Flint and localities to come are difficult to predict, but will likely be huge
People of all ages will be affected, but none more than young children, says Michael Colucciello of Schenectady.
“When heavy metals leach into water supplies, the health toll is enormous,” said Michael Colucciello, Jr., a retired pharmaceutical researcher with New York State’s Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.” Colucciello continued, “People of all ages will be affected, but none more than young children. Young brain cells are more susceptible to exposure to heavy metals such as lead, silver, gold, chromium, etc. Developmental time is passing for these youth and no developing is happening. And you can’t replace nerve cells. You can’t reverse the clock.”
Lifetime medical and education assistance will be required for thousands of youth–an estimated 8,600 in Flint. Water pipes must be found and replaced in thousands of homes. Social services for affected families will be required to assist them in raising children now burdened emotionally and physically. And John Q. Taxpayer will foot the bill.
As the old saying goes, “Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.”