One plaintiff was dismissed and three more dropped out of the ongoing class-action suit over chromium 6 exposure from several Pacific Gas & Electric facilities. On October 3, the court ruled that the plaintiff, who alleged that exposure caused Crohn's disease, an intestinal inflammation that can be debilitating, was ineligible. The ruling applied to seven more plaintiffs. PG&E claimed that plaintiffs lacked admissible scientific evidence that chromium caused the alleged injuries. \t Three others voluntarily dropped out of the suit, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed by the utility. The litigation in Los Angeles Superior Court still has 1,200 plaintiffs, however, and is proceeding. The remaining plaintiffs are seeking compensation and punitive damages. They assert that their exposure to chromium 6 caused kidney, lung, and stomach ailments, blood cancers, and respiratory and other illnesses. The utility continues to claim chromium 6 has no role in plaintiffs' health problems, according to PG&E spokesperson Jon Tremayne. If plaintiffs are successful, the utility pegs the total claims at about $500 million. The case was originally filed in 1995 but was stayed in the wake of PG&E's bankruptcy. The complaints are mainly being lodged against the utility's Kettleman plant, with some against the Topock facility. Also included are claims related to the Hinkley plant featured in the movie Erin Brockovich (Circuit, March 19, 2004). According to the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, when inhaled, chromium 6 is one of the most potent airborne carcinogens known. In 1968, the U.S. Geological Survey detected total chromium 6 levels of 4.7 parts per million at Well No. 4 at the Kettleman facility. The acceptable level for the state's safe drinking water is 50 parts per billion. Following the Fresno Regional Water Quality Control Board's directive, PG&E reported contaminants up to 4.7 ppm in 1968 and 0.52 ppm in 1982. The well was next to evaporation ponds into which PG&E dumped wastewater. The Fresno water board has said it learned of contamination problems after the well was destroyed. For decades, the well was used as a backup drinking water supply for PG&E employees. Vapors from the plant's cooling towers could be another source of exposure. PG&E agreed to abandon and destroy the well in 1982. Trial is scheduled to begin January 9.