Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

So what if we kill a few people with our testing? Is Rocketdyne telling us the whole story?

Years ago we filed a case against Rocketdyne/Santa Susana Field Laboratory near Simi Valley, California. This case was dismissed based on the statute of limitations as it existed at the time. Hundreds of people were left with no redress from injuries that they believed were caused by Rocketdyne. However, no one knew the whole story. On October 6, 2006, an LA Times article disclosed that radioactive emissions appear to have been MUCH greater than previously suspected and could have resulted in hundreds of cancers in the surrounding community–according to a new study. Studies like this show that chemicals DO cause cancer. This study wasn’t available to us then, at the time we filed the lawsuit. Now that this study is available, the case, in a sense, should be re-born. But the current laws would say that Rocketdyne neighbors who had cancer, and who were dismissed could NOT now re-file. Too bad for them. Out of luck. Case dismissed…but this is NEW information available to us and the public that was NOT available back then. Why should the injured victims, innocent in this whole situation, who were guilty only of drinking water and breathing the air, be penalized? If this were a criminal case, and there were newly discovered DNA evidence, as this information has been newly discovered, the case could be re-filed in some states. I am advocating an argument for allowing people to re-file cases based upon evolving science. Why should innocent victims be penalized because the science is lagging behind the law? In this particular case, the study found that Rocketdyne had purposely WITHHELD information from the researchers. If the polluter stood in the way of responsible scientific reporting in order to benefit the polluter alone, why should the victim continue to suffer? Public health deserves greater protection by the law. Not only is the LA Times article disturbing, it is also extremely disheartening to see such deceit. Industry is withholding critical information that surrounding communities need to know in order to protect themselves. Public health, OUR health and safety, is now being jeopardized because the truth was being withheld. There is a memorandum written by one of Rocketdyne’s own employees specializing in Advanced Aerothermodynamics. This employee wrote to upper management because he was CONCERNED with test firings at another facility, test firings that could endanger the public. The reply he received from management is shocking. I quote their response. “It doesn’t matter if we kill a few people with our testing, because Rockwell has a large legal staff that can take care of that kind of thing.” The letter from the Rocketdyne employee closes with this: “If I were forced to testify before a Grand Jury following a lethal spill, I would have to state that the above statement was the last that I had heard from Rockwell management on this subject.” This information coupled with the witholding of information is very scary. Is this really the attitude of industry: to approve the sacrifice of a few people for profit? We should be outraged! But if we say nothing--if we do nothing about it, we are condoning it. We become part of the problem. When information reveals the extreme callousness of a company, a company that doesn’t care if they "kill a few people" with their testing; and further shows that they withheld pertinent information; that the withholding of that information could jeopardize the lives hundreds of innocent people, what should we do? What can we do? It becomes OUR job and the job of the LAW to go out and LEGISLATE in order to PROTECT the PEOPLE. When new information comes forward in civil cases, and that that information has been purposely withheld from everyone, including researchers and the public, there must be relief for the innocent victims. In circumstances like the one I’ve mentioned above, the statute of limitations should be revived and adjusted to run from the time the public learns of the purposely withheld information so that the PEOPLE can get the JUSTICE that they so deserve. Why should companies that participate in withholding information be rewarded? Why should the victims of such withheld facts be penalized? Justice requires that the law be changed. It is only fair. Bibliography * Covarrubias, Amanda. "Study Says Lab Meltdown Caused Cancer. Scientists say details about the 1959 accident near Simi Valley continue to be withheld. Other contamination at the site is much clearer." LA Times 26 Oct. 2006.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Morality or Corruption in Beverly Hills High School: Our Choice?

I've always been a believer in this country. A couple hundred years ago, we chose to create ourselves, to create a nation where voices are heard, and where truth is judged on its own merits. We even legislated education so that our nation would be made up of an educated populace. When America started, our morals and our values were exactly what was driving and enforcing the laws. We were--we are a stubborn, fiercely independent people and we make up our own minds. The American people have never been sheep. But now... Recently I've seen a change in the court of public opinion–a change for the worse. It is a change that makes me wonder if we are still a nation based on ideals. Now when an attorney loses a case, it appears that public opinion sides with the first solution, the easy solution. When an attorney loses a case, now public opinion sides with the law. Public opinion says, "Well okay, the law says there's nothing wrong. Therefore, it's okay." What case am I talking about? Well, really, I wanted to talk about Beverly Hills High School. This is a litigation that started maybe three years ago and it concerns about a thousand plaintiffs–former students and some neighborhood residents, plaintiffs who attended or lived very close to Beverly Hills High School. Underneath Beverly Hills High School are eighteen operational well-heads. Right next door, basically on the school property, is Sempra Energy, who operates several large cooling towers, and that has been using hexavalent chromium since about 1968—possibly before that time—until about 1992. At the present time one cooling tower still has hazardous levels of hexavalent chromium. It is our right, our duty, our responsibility to protect the school. To protect our children. America's children. Children attending school in a sick environment. In a city who knew that the facility could deteriorate the air. Who knew that the on-shore oil platform could blow up. The South Coast Air Quality Management District sent its own experts out to the onshore oil platform, and guess what those experts did? They all ran off because they thought it might blow up. The inspectors wrote back via email and said that "I would be concerned too if my child attended school here." So there is not only the issue of the chemicals, but there is an issue of a potential explosion. Of the thousand plaintiffs, 409 have cancer. We just finished the trial of the first twelve, which we lost. It's up on appeal. The city was let out on immunity, which is surprising because I don't know how anyone gets out on immunity when they had prior knowledge. ( In 1984, the city of Beverly hills sent the oil industry a questionnaire regarding the oil platform underneath the school. They asked them, "Could this facility deteriorate the air? Could the facility have an impact on human health? Could the facility blow up? AND, the oil company’s response was “Maybe.") The school district has one motion pending. Semper Energy has been stayed. The oil company has been stayed. The 900+ other plaintiffs have been stayed, all pending the outcome of the appeal. I had several interviews on this case lately, and people keep asking me, "Well, what if you lose?" And so I ask, what if we lose? Does that suddenly mean that 409 people don't have cancer? What if we lose? Does that now mean that it is okay to build oil platforms underneath public high schools and not disclose their existence to the parents? to the public? Does that suddenly mean that it's okay to build power plants on top of public schools? I don't think so. I've never understood even in the Hinkley case, the argument about the hexavalent chromium. It clearly causes cancer, by inhalation, and certain forms of cancer. But there are these ongoing arguments about ingestion of hexavalent chromium. How can there be a question about it? Hexavalent chromium is a poison. We shouldn't be drinking it. At all. Science has not caught up with the law, and that’s unfortunate. So the more I work on these cases, the more I watch the outcomes. Some are good, some are bad. We don't know the outcome of Beverly Hills High yet. We have to talk about it. When we don't talk about it, we just brush things like this under the rug, I think this makes us become as guilty as industry. Industry isn't talking about it. Industry is brushing the problem under the rug. Out of sight, out of mind. And that is a real tragedy. Because at stake is our health, the protection of our children. The safety of our children is far too important to sweep under the rug. It's not just a lawsuit to be ignored, and then everyone says, "Well, there was nothing wrong anyway." Something is wrong. So the more I work on these cases, the more outspoken I am moved to become. About the law. About right and wrong. Sometimes decisions are made, and judgments that aren't right come down through the courts. We'll see what happens with Beverly Hills High School. Currently the case is stayed. We'll see the outcome of the twelve in the appeal process. And I will keep blogging about what is happening at Beverly Hills High School. Because I can't help but keep wondering...since we can legislate to remove vending machines because chips and cola could be bad for our kids health, why can't we legislate to protect our children from eighteen potentially explosive well-heads simmering below their classrooms? And I will leave you today with a question. If YOU had full knowledge that your children were attending a school that could blow up, that could deteriorate the air, and could harm your children, would you send them there?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Hello. I'm Erin Brockovich. Welcome to my blog. Yes, this is new to me, so cut me some slack if it's not perfect. I've just launched my own website Brockovich.com and now blog. My objective is to find, share and post information about things that I've discovered and believe you'd want to know about. I travel the world doing lectures and research. My goal is to keep in constant touch with people and share information from the road. This blog is part of our journey together. Thanks! Erin.