Film Spotlight: Dark Waters with Mark Ruffalo

Photo of abandoned chemicals in Bhopal by Chris Burton

Dark Waters, a film detailing lawyer Robert Bilott’s twenty-year legal battle with the DuPont chemical company over the poisoning of water supplies and local residents in West Virginia, starring Mark Ruffalo, is due to be released in cinemas nationwide this Friday, February 28th.

Based on an article that ran in the New Yorker in 2016, ‘The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare’, the film details Bilott’s investigation into DuPont’s manufacturing of Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) after he was approached in 1998 by Wilbur Tennant, a farmer from Parkersburg, W. Va., who’s cattle were being affected by DuPont’s dumping of chemical wastes on neighbouring land. Bilott’s investigation would go on to uncover decades of corporate deceit and environmental contamination on a scale beyond anything previously encountered in modern legal history.

For those interested in the Bhopal gas disaster, the film covers a period roughly synchronous with Dow Chemical’s move to buyout the Union Carbide Corporation in 1999 up until their eventual merger with DuPont in 2017, just subsequent to the events depicted in the film. Given that Dow Chemical had assumed legal responsibility for the Bhopal disaster following their buyout of UCC, a responsibility they retained throughout the merger with DuPont, the case has clear parallels with the ongoing legal battle over compensation and clean-up of the contamination in Bhopal.

Prior to the release of the film lawyer Robert Bilott, Mark Ruffalo, and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Hazardous Substances and Wastes, Buskat Tuncak, have held a number of promotional events warning of the continued use of PFA chemicals in Britain and Europe. On February 5th Bilott, Ruffalo and Tuncak headed to Paris to present the film to the European Parliament and hold talks on the continued use of PFA’s in the chemical industry in Europe. On February 6th Binott and Tuncak held another event to discuss the global impact of the ongoing use of these chemicals at Westminster Hall in London.

Bilott also released a book in 2019, ‘Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed and One Lawyer’s Twenty-Year Battle Against Dupont’, that documents the entire history of the events covered in the film. We wholeheartedly recommend you attend the film, and if you wish to learn more about the case you can find links to both Binott’s book and the original New Yorker Article on the case at the links below:

‘Exposure’ by Robert Bilott on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Exposure-Robert-Bilott/dp/1471189619 

The New Yorker: ‘The Lawyer who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare’:

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/magazine/the-lawyer-who-became-duponts-worst-nightmare.html

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We believe Dow must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.