What Lies Upstream

What Lies Upstream

DVD - 2018
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Investigating a massive chemical spill in West Virginia that left 300,000 people without drinking water for months, filmmaker Cullen Hoback uncovers government and corporate collusion with frightening nationwide public health implications.
Publisher: [El Segundo, California] : Gravitas Ventures, [2018]
Branch Call Number: DVD 344.0463 WHAT 1DISC
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (85 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in
digital,optical
video file,DVD video

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j
jimg2000
Apr 14, 2018

Perhaps the most famous concentration of chemical plants, “Cancer Alley,” lies along the Mississippi between Baton Rouge and New Orleans with more than a hundred petro-chemical refineries and factories. But the rivers near Charleston, West Virginia have a region with a similar name, Chemical Alley, with hundreds of coal mines and dozens of chemical plants.
===
We used to never have a problem then they put mines up here, mines up here and stuff and then all that sludge and slurry, even into the aquifer it's dripping. And then for years they said it smells funny but it's OK to drink it. Half the people in this trailer park died from cancer.

j
jimg2000
Apr 14, 2018

MCHM is a coal flocculant, and it's used to help separate the coal. It's part of the coal process. And MCHM was labeled as a non-hazardous chemical, which is important because there are less regulations on it. There's no required inspections of tanks that hold non-hazardous chemicals, there's less rules and controls over how the information around that chemical needs to be reported.
===
Yeah, in the very beginning the CDC had reported that you could drink it at one part per million. Anything lower than that would be safe to drink. They later reversed that decision and said, “Well, actually maybe it's not OK for pregnant women”. The reality was is that they were using a tiny amount of science that had been produced by the company. They had no idea really what the effects were, they just thought they did.

j
jimg2000
Apr 14, 2018

I talked to Dr. David Lewis, I got in touch with him, an ex-EPA whistleblower who focuses on issues around sewage sludge. And he clued me in and he said, “Well, companies aren't just flushing chemicals down the drain into the river any more, they're flushing chemicals down the drain like you flush chemicals down the toilet”.
===
So, instead of those chemicals going into the river, they were now going into the wastewater treatment plants that were processing them along with sewage sludge, human feces, everything else, and then that was being used to fertilize the lands of America, public lands, and being used all over the country, and so every chemical known to man was ending up in our soil, and then gosh, you know what happens when it rains? That goes right back into the river, and that's what we were finding.

j
jimg2000
Apr 14, 2018

I have fought a 12-year battle in Washington D.C. exposing government science agency corruption. The Center for Disease Control, the US EPA, the environmental policemen we pay to protect us were actually the environmental criminals. I had to betray some of my best friends, people I went to graduate school with who were working with the EPA and creating fabricated reports.
===
I repeatedly asked him, “Why, why, why, why would scientists create fake data in ways that harm public health? Why would the CDC and E.P.A. cover things up like this?” It didn't make any sense to me. I thought they were the good guys. He had to very politely and kindly answer my question over and over again. One thing he says is, “Well, why would the Catholic Church do what it did?”

j
jimg2000
Apr 14, 2018

Are you the lead sponsor on SB423?
-Yes, I was.
Did you write the bill, or—
-No, I didn’t write. I mean, the attorneys wrote it.
Whose attorneys wrote it?
-Well, shoot, I mean, it was done, I can’t even tell ya. The Manufacturer’s Association, I don’t know. I don’t know who did it.
But surely someone came to you with the bill, and they said, would you be the lead sponsor on this?
-People from the Manufacturer’s Association did. What’s your interest in knowing who gave me the bill?
Well, I’ve just been following the water crisis from the beginning.
-Okay.
And so because the bill—
-Well, let me tell you what I tell people. Somebody else got a speeding ticket, and everybody else got a fine. That’s the way I view it. That’s it. You know, it just gave an opportunity for people to come in and just cause all sorts of regulatory problems for us that weren’t necessary. So I’m happy 473 (error) passed. I’m glad my name is on the top. It’s not a bad bill. It’s a good bill.

j
jimg2000
Apr 14, 2018

Independent scientists arrive in West Virginia to conduct their own studies on the water, former industry workers become whistleblowers, and the politicians of the state decide to shield themselves from the impending public backlash by developing the strongest piece of environmental legislation the state has ever seen, known as “The Tank Bill.”
...
Meanwhile, “The Tank Bill” is revisited and attacked by State Senators, lobbyists and water company executives. It was water downed in SB423 ...
===
Yes, so this is a strange turn for me. You know, you hear all the time that this is what happens behind close doors, but you never see it. They were literally writing the law. So, they were crossing things off, they were saying what they would and wouldn't accept, and their word was as good as the law. Nobody had any, any power against them.

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j
jimg2000
Apr 14, 2018

Might have heard about the 2014 chemical spill from those 60-year-old holding tanks on the banks of the Elk River but since forgotten. The 2015 Flint corrosive water crisis in the latter part of the program however is still fresh in my mind. The public should be better informed by watching documentaries like this and elect/defeat politicians who work for the corporations instead of the welfare of their constituents, like clean drinking water.

Notes:
1. The segment on the final version of the "Tank Bill" (requiring the annual inspection of above ground chemical storage tanks) is outrageous and criminal, see "Quotes."
2. PBS Independent Lens programing
What Lies Upstream (#1915) Duration: 1:26:46
https://www.kqed.org/tv/programs/index.jsp?pgmid=8630
3. Another investigative article from "The Atlantic":
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/is-the-water-safe-yet/359781/

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