New Book Takes On Erin Brockovich s Greenscam

By ACSH Staff — Feb 22, 2011
Erin Brockovich is a totemic figure for radical environmentalists.

Erin Brockovich is a totemic figure for radical environmentalists. Her position of singular adulation was enshrined with the release of the Oscar-nominated film about her life, which purported to show the true-story of how she brought the big, bad power company Pacific Gas & Electric to heel for its dumping of hexavalent chromium in the tiny town of Hinkley, California.

But, as regular readers of Dispatch may know, there is no evidence — contrary to her claims and Hollywood’s — that the people of Hinkley were ever put at an increased risk of cancer by Pacific Gas & Electric. Nor is there data indicating that anyone in the town ever suffered from the minute amounts of hexavalent chromium in its ground water.

Reporter Norma Zager’s new book Erin Brockovich and the Beverly Hills Greenscam is far more damning. Zager is a past winner of the Los Angeles Press Club’s Journalist of the Year and Best Investigative Reporter awards, and like so many people, she started out as a Brockovich supporter. Zager thought that she had been assigned to cover a lawsuit initiated by Brockovich which would show that Beverly Hills schoolchildren and teachers were being needlessly exposed to deadly toxins in the soil.

What Zager instead found was that Brockovich ignored public health officials who told her that her claims were at best questionable, her remarks in interviews were frequently composed of “half-truths,” and she handed out leaflets on the street to find potential litigants. The book concludes by describing a judge’s decision to not only dismiss the case but to require her law firm to pay the court costs of the plaintiffs, a highly unusual outcome.

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