N-Hexane hits Apple workers and Beverly Hills High School Students

I just read that Apple factory workers in China who cleaned iPad and iPod screens were poisoned by something called n-hexane. We may have something in common. I was one of the kids (or rather, I am now one of the adults) who was involved in the Erin Brockovich-led lawsuit against Beverly Hills High School which alleged a cancer cluster among the alumni of the school. I write about it at length in my memoir, but the short version is that in the end the suit ended up being settled, with no admission of wrongdoing from any of the oil companies nor the city of Beverly Hills (the suit against the city was actually thrown out for lack of evidence). At issue among other things was the presence of n-hexane in air quality samples taken by Brockovich’s then law firm Masry & Vititoe on the campus of Beverly High. N-hexane is what’s known as a toxic “constituent” of oil and gas production. What does this have to do with high school, you may wonder? It turns out that beneath the rarified campus of Beverly High there are 18 oil wells. That’s not in dispute….it’s just a fact, though it’s not part of any “welcome package” distributed to new students. It’s more of a hush hush thing which brings in revenues of close to $1M per year.

I’m glad to see that Apple workers are finally getting to see their suffering brought to light. Meantime at the high school campus there will be a drilling and production ban that goes into effect at the end of the year 2016, though they say the city council can extend the deadline if there “should there be a finding of public interest.” I really sincerely hope that I didn’t get cancer due to n-hexane at Beverly High. I suppose I may never know. But it strikes me as ridiculous that oil production is still ongoing and guaranteed at least another 4 years at the school. Imagine if Apple responded to the n-hexane issue by saying they’d change their policy in another four years. But they’re a private company, and it would likely cause such a stir that their beloved share price might fall. Beverly High is a public school, and thus probably doesn’t have to worry about the whole town fleeing elsewhere for their education.