‘Dark Waters’ Staring Mark Ruffalo, Tells the True Story of Rob Bilott, the Lawyer Who Took DuPont to Court and Won.

Dark Waters is showing in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, with more on Dec. 6.

Hulk Actor Ruffalo Takes Aim At Fracking With New Flick ‘Dark Waters’ by David Blackmon, Dec 4, 2019, Forbes

… From 2008 through 2017, fracking had even played the non-human villain in poorly-researched and highly-fictionalized episodes of myriad television series (including some of my favorites, like CSI and Longmire), and even of a 2012 feature film starring Matt Damon, John Krasinski and Frances McDormand titled “Promised Land.” But the big problem for the alarmists and entertainers who wanted to capitalize on the favored bogeyman of the day was that, despite decades of studies and protests and lawsuits and congressional hearings featuring Yoko Ono and other non-expert celebrities, none of the scary narratives about fracking could be proven to be scientifically accurate.

[Such a nasty uncreative lie! Mr. Blackmon, search around this website for a few days to find all the science you need, and more, or if you haven’t the time or don’t want to invest in the truth, review the evidence succinctly complied in the 6th Frac Impact Commendium. Even the industry-friendly US EPA summarized scientific evidence of Encana directly frac’ing into drinking water aquifers in Pavillion Wyoming and Rosebud Alberta, contaminating them]

“Promised Land” was a big flop at the box office [Because industry worked so hard to keep it out of theatres, removing advertising for it and keeping listing of it showing off theatre marquees? (eg in Calgary Alberta, the film showed in a theatre without the complex listing the film with the others being shown on the marquee. Mighty disgusting censorship by the oil and gas industry and its petty and cowardly enablers. “Promised Land” is a great film, with a stunning ending.] – pretty much a first for Mr. Damon – but now long-time anti-fracking alarmist [Wow! Over the top smearing, even for industry-enabling Forbes?] actor Mark Ruffalo is attempting to use another feature film to influence public opinion. [Or, perhaps more simply, Mr. Ruffalo thinks Rob Bilott’s story and huge important victory needs to be told] Perhaps as another indicator of how passe’ the whole anti-fracking construct has become, Ruffalo’s new film, titled “Dark Waters” is not another effort to make the public believe that hydraulic fracturing pollutes ground water.

Instead, Ruffalo’s new film targets a group of industrial chemicals called polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. For the entertainment/alarmist industries, the first problem becomes obvious: Unlike hydraulic fracturing, which was easily convertible to the catchy nickname of “fracking,” PFAS do not easily lend themselves to any sort of memorable moniker. Where “fracking” ended up being used by many media outlets in headlines to describe literally every step along the oil and gas supply chain, from drilling all the way to refining and export, it’s hard to imagine “PFAS” ever possessing a similar ability to drive traffic to websites or attract viewers to evening news casts.

PFAS are used in the manufacture of a broad variety of household products like non-stick cookware and carpet sealants, as well as in the making of firefighting foams, cell phones and semi-conductors. They are, much like oil and natural gas, ubiquitous in the everyday lives of Americans. They’re literally everywhere, and, as was the case with fracking, they have in recent years been the subject of studies alleging water pollution and negative health impacts. Those studies in turn predictably led to a raft of major lawsuits against the makers and users of PFAS, some of whom have entered into major settlements in hopes of “buying peace,” as corporate lawyers like to say. [Oh, is that how lawyers like to justify their helping cover-up (gag and and settle) corporate crimes harming and polluting land, air, water and life?]

But of course, the “peace” never turns out to arrive, and those settlements have since been followed by litigation from state attorneys general also wanting to get in on their share of the money. [OMG! This reporter is pathetic. Worse even than Alberta media sluggin’ for Kenney’s propaganda war room] As was the case with fracking litigation, the problem here is that the science around PFAS is far from settled, with countervailing independent and government studies finding no significant health or environmental impacts from their use.

Ruffalo’s film claims to be “inspired by true events,” but critics who have seen it note that, much like “Promised Land,” “Dark Waters” cherry picks facts, invents others out of whole cloth and ends up being basically an anti-corporation, anti-capitalist advocacy effort. But hey, this is a movie, and “inspiration” takes many forms.

To anyone who has paid attention to Ruffalo’s long-time activism, this will come as no surprise. The actor has long used to his public appearances on talk shows and social media accounts to go after a broad variety of industries and capitalism in general. In a tweet on December 1, in fact, the actor had this to say: “It’s time for an economic revolution. Capitalism today is failing us, killing us, and robbing from our children’s future.” No doubt Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would agree.

Ruffalo’s passion is admirable, but his biases and anti-capitalist agenda are obvious. Convenient for him that much of the financing for the movie came from Participant Media, backed by Ebay billionaire Jeff Skoll. Whether “Dark Waters,” which premiers nationally on Friday, December 5 [Does he mean today, Thursday, or Dec 6?], will become a commercial success remains to be seen. Regardless, anyone who has followed the fracking debate over the past decade will find the series of events and factors leading to its production to be strikingly familiar. “Dark Waters” may well be an entertaining film, but no one should consider it to be anything remotely approaching a scientifically-based documentary. [Who said it was? Besides, documentaries can be just as much fiction as Disney flicks for children]

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Refer also to: Bob Donnan’s post Artificial Turf and PFAS for excellent additional information on how the chemical is used in the sports industry and oil and gas industry.

PFAS: Industry — Use — Source
Oil and mining production
Proprietary drilling fluids, hydraulic fluids
Well pads, other energy development sites
Source: Pa Department of Environmental Protection PFAS Sampling Plan

Is it really any surprise we see “Proprietary drilling fluids” as a use for PFAS? After all, it’s officially known as “slick water fracking.” And since every Marcellus Shale well pad is an industrial site, shouldn’t the Pa DEP map show thousands more industrial sites in Pennsylvania as having potential PFAS contamination?

Bob

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‘Dark Waters’ Stereotypes Draw Ire of West Virginia Lawmakers by Steven Allen Adams, Nov 30, 2019, The Intelligencer

CHARLESTON — Several Republican members [Poor Republican babies don’t like the truth about them do they?] of the West Virginia House of Delegates signed a letter this month criticizing a movie telling the story of C8 contamination in the Mid-Ohio Valley for unfairly reinforcing Appalachian stereotypes.

The Nov. 19 letter was written to the U.S House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform, which had a hearing earlier that day, titled “Toxic, Forever Chemicals: A Call for Immediate Federal Action on PFAS.”

PFAS — short for Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — is any number of man-made chemical compounds. According to the EPA, these compounds don’t break down when absorbed by the human body, often accumulating in the body over time and leading to adverse health issues, including immune deficiencies, low infant birth weights, thyroid issues, and cancer.

During the House Oversight Committee hearing, members of Congress heard from several witnesses, including actor Mark Ruffalo, who is starring in the move “Dark Waters.”

Ruffalo plays an attorney representing a Wood County farmer whose cows have been poisoned after drinking from a water source contaminated by C8, a type of PFAS made by Dupont’s Washington Works plant.

“Dark Waters” is based on a true story about events that led to a lawsuit against Dupont, the makers of C8. The chemical compound was used for decades to make Teflon non-stick coatings most commonly used in cookware. Dupont and other companies began phasing out the manufacture of C8 by 2015.

The 17 West Virginia lawmakers who signed the letter to the House Oversight Committee do not take issue with documented issues with C8. They do, however, take issue with how Parkersburg – and West Virginians as a whole – are portrayed in the movie which was not film in Parkersburg or the state.

“We ask that you be aware that the PFAS-centered film ‘Dark Waters’ irresponsibly uses tired stereotypes about the people of West Virginia,” the lawmakers wrote. “The film’s portrayal of Parkersburg does not reflect reality and can do real damage to our economy and the hard-working people of the Mountain State.”

The lawmakers take issue with a specific scene showing a girl riding a bicycle and grinning, showing off rotting teeth, implying this was caused by C8 and PFAS chemicals.

“We are especially offended that ‘Dark Waters’ portrays West Virginia as literally toothless hillbillies,” the lawmakers wrote. “There is no evidence that PFAS exposure leads to oral heath deterioration. So either the filmmakers are fabricating science or they are relying on vulgar stereotypes to sell movie tickets. Neither is acceptable to us.”

According to a study published in the British Medical Journal on Feb. 9, researchers Nithya Ramesh, Manish Arora, and Joseph Braun found no connections between PFAS’s and an increase in dental cavities. However, they also warn that their data should be “interpreted cautiously.”

“We observed no associations between the prevalence of dental (cavities) and serum concentrations of (C8),” according to the study.

“West Virginia is a beautiful state with natural wonders that attracts thousands of tourists from across the world,” the lawmakers wrote. “An irresponsible film like “Dark Waters” puts tourism jobs at risk based on a lie. So, while we encourage Congress to get to bottom of PFAS-related matters, we ask that those who profit off fear-mongering and stereotyping be held accountable.”

Lawmakers signing the letter include: House Majority Leader Amy Summers, R-Taylor; House Majority Whip Paul Espinosa. R-Jefferson; Del. Rick Atkinson III, R-Roane; Del. John Mandt, R-Cabell; Del. Josh Higginbotham, R-Putnam; Del. Gary Howell, R-Mineral; Del. Chris Phillips, R-Barbour; Del. Terry Waxman, R-Harrison; Del. Dianna Graves, R-Kanawha; Del. Caleb Hanna, R-Nicholas; Del. Scott Cadle, R-Mason; Del. Steve Westfall, R-Jackson; Del. Chris Toney. R-Raleigh; Del. T. Kevan Bartlett, R-Kanawha; Del. Terri Sypolt, R-Preston; and Del. Joe Jeffries, R-Kanawha.

A request for comment from Focus Features, the distributor of the film, and Participant, the film’s production company, was not returned.

Dark Waters Tells the True Story of the Lawyer Who Took DuPont to Court and Won. But Rob Bilott’s Fight Is Far From Over by Alejandro de la Garza, Nov 25, 2019, Time.com

Rob Bilott, a corporate lawyer-turned-environmental crusader, doesn’t much care if he’s made enemies over the years. “I’ve been dealing with this for almost three decades,” he says. “I can’t really worry about if the people on the other side like me or not.”

Bilott used to be on the other side. The Todd Haynes-directed movie Dark Waters, now playing in theaters, tells the story of how the lawyer, played by Mark Ruffalo, switched allegiances. As happened in real life, the movie depicts Ruffalo’s Bilott as a lawyer who defends large chemical companies before he is approached for help in 1998 by Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp), a West Virginia farmer whose land was contaminated by chemical giant DuPont. Inflamed by that injustice, and the complicity of local authorities, the lawyer risks his career as he embarks on a decades-long legal siege of one of America’s most powerful corporations. He works, at first, on Tennant’s behalf, then pursues a class action suit representing around 70,000 people living near a chemical plant that allegedly contaminated drinking water with PFOA, a toxic chemical used in the production of Teflon. In recent years, studies have correlated long-term exposure to PFOA with a number of illnesses, including some types of cancer.

In 2017, Bilott won a $671 million settlement on behalf of more than 3,500 plaintiffs. Those people claimed they had contracted diseases, among them kidney cancer and testicular cancer, from chemicals DuPont allegedly knew may have been dangerous for decades, and allowed to contaminate their drinking water anyway.

In Dark Waters, Haynes emphasizes the seemingly endless fight taken up by Bilott, as DuPont brings its considerable resources to bear to defend itself over the course of two decades. According to one analyst, the film’s potential to raise awareness about these issues could have a serious effect on some chemical companies’ bottom lines. But for the real Rob Bilott, the work of taking the industry to court is far from over. In October 2018, the lawyer filed a new lawsuit against several companies, including 3M, Arkema, and Chemours, a manufacturer spun off from DuPont in 2015. That ongoing case is seeking class action status, and was initially brought on behalf of Kevin Hardwick, a firefighting veteran of 40 years who used fire-suppression foams and firefighting equipment containing a class of chemicals known as PFAS, or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFOA is one type of PFAS chemical).

PFAS chemicals are used in products ranging from waterproof jackets to shaving cream, and they can leach into water supplies in areas where they are disposed of or used in fire suppression (in particular on military bases, where they have been used for years). According to Bilott’s complaint, studies currently suggest that PFAS is present in the blood of around 99% of Americans. The class of chemicals has broadly been linked to immune system disruption, while PFOA specifically has been found to be associated with cancers and other diseases. Bilott’s newest lawsuit, as with his prior cases, alleges that these companies knew for decades that PFAS chemicals, specifically PFOA, could be linked to serious health problems, and that they still assured the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other U.S. government regulators that PFAS exposures were harmless.

“What we’re hearing once again from those companies that put those chemicals out there, knowing that they would get into the environment and into our blood, is that there’s insufficient evidence to show that they present risks to humans who are exposed,” explains Bilott. “These companies are going to sit back and say, we’re entitled to…use you as guinea pigs, yet those of you who are exposed are somehow the ones who are going to have to prove what these [chemicals] do to you.”

Some scientists are particularly worried by the potential health effects of those less-studied PFAS chemicals. Dr. Philippe Grandjean, a professor of environmental health at Harvard, conducted a study that appeared to suggest that babies exposed to PFAS could suffer impaired immune-system development. “I fell off the chair,” says Dr. Grandjean. “When I looked at those data it was mind-boggling.”

According to Bilott’s complaint, when his lawsuit’s defendants were asked by the EPA and other agencies to stop producing materials with PFOA, they switched to new “short chain” PFAS molecules. For scientists like Dr. Grandjean, there just isn’t enough information to know how short chain PFASs interact in the body, or if they’re safe. “Do we really want to keep exposing the population to potentially toxic chemicals and simply wait for the scientists to find statistically convincing evidence that they are toxic?” says Dr. Grandjean. “I would think that prevention would be a much better solution.”

The logic of Bilott’s new suit is to force chemical companies to pay to find answers. Rather than seeking monetary damages for the millions of Americans with PFAS in their blood, the lawsuit demands the Chemours and the other chemical companies pay for an independent science panel to definitively establish the health effects of PFAS.

In a statement, DuPont defended its safety and environmental record, and said that it does not produce PFAS chemicals, though it does use them. “We are leading the industry by supporting federal legislation and science-based regulatory efforts to address these chemicals,” the company wrote in an email. “We also have announced a series of commitments around our limited use of PFAS, including the [sic] eliminating the use of all PFAS-based firefighting foams from our facilities and granting royalty-free licenses to those seeking to use innovative PFAS remediation technologies.” DuPont also questioned the veracity of unspecified events depicted in the Dark Waters film. The other companies named in the suit — the 3M Company, Dyneon, the Chemours Company, Archroma, Arkema, AGC, Daikin Industries and Solvay Specialty Polymers — did not respond to requests for comment.

In February, those defendants filed a joint motion to dismiss, which the court denied in September, allowing the case to proceed. The next legal step is for the court to decide whether the lawsuit will be permitted to go forward on behalf of a nationwide class. “We’re talking about chemicals that resulted in billions of dollars in profits over many, many years,” says Bilott. “That should be more than sufficient to help pay for whatever studies need to be done.”

The case could take years to resolve, and then years after that for any potential science panel to publish definitive conclusions. (The panel portrayed in the movie took seven years to come to its determination.) Few would have begrudged Bilott a few years to rest on his laurels and enjoy the royalties from his new book, aptly titled “Exposure,” before embarking on what will inevitably be a long and arduous series of proceedings. But Bilott says he doesn’t have plans to ever stop fighting PFAS contamination.

“If we can’t get where we need to go to protect people through our regulatory channels, through our legislative process, then unfortunately what we have left is our legal process,” says Bilott. “If that’s that it takes to get people the information they need and to protect people, we’re willing to do it.”

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