4 Underrated Documentaries About Water Contamination in America

4 Underrated Documentaries About Water Contamination in America
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America is facing an unprecedented impure water crisis. About forty-five percent of the nation’s tap water has a high chemical content. This type of contamination usually happens because of industrial spills and illegal waste disposal.

Even the entertainment industry has tried to inform the masses about real-life government cover-ups and water pollution. For instance, there are unique documentaries about various water contamination incidents.

They discuss the unseen perils and health risks associated with bad-quality water. The films also highlight the systemic failure plaguing various communities in the country. Do you want to watch some of these documentaries?

In this blog post, we’ll list four underrated films inspired by real events about water pollution incidents.

1. A Civil Action

This film, led by John Travolta, depicts a tenacious lawyer trying to bring justice to many parents in Woburn. As stated in IMDb, the protagonist took on the case against big corporations for water contamination even though it could bankrupt his firm and end his career. The actor played the role of Jan Schlichtmann, a real-life personal injury lawyer who fought the case.

This fast-paced drama will teach you the following things:

  • The impact of human actions on environmental degradation, leading to a grim future
  • Legal loopholes and challenges when going against big companies
  • The innate need for corporate accountability and justice

What Happened at Woburn?

In this city, 21 children suddenly developed leukemia. Among them, 12 unfortunately passed away. All that happened because the water supply was contaminated.

After almost a decade, people finally discovered the reason. Trichloroethylene (TCE) and other industrial fluids had leaked from barrels into the Aberjona River. Two public drinking wells received water from here and were contaminated with organic and chemical compounds.

Once the community learned about this, they demanded official investigations and filed lawsuits. Their activism led them to receive USD 8 million from the defendant.

2. The Devil We Know

This documentary explores the perils of unaccounted industrial pollution while manufacturing Teflon. You’ll find that it particularly focuses on perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). It’s truly an eye-opening film about whistleblowers who challenged powerful corporations in West Virginia.

Take a look at the significant takeaways from this documentary:

  • The importance of monitoring and regulating manufacturing processes
  • Health impacts of chemical run-off from factories as it contaminates water
  • The power of consumer awareness, community resilience, and activism

This film also uses scientific evidence and personal accounts to illustrate the devastating health effects of chemical exposure.

The Incidents in West Virginia

A Teflon manufacturing factory dumped toxic chemicals into Parkersburg’s water supply. They were dumping this waste in the nearby waterways and landfills. Therefore, the drinking water supply in the locality got contaminated with chemicals.

Despite knowing the potential health hazards, the manufacturing company continued this disposal for many decades. They successfully concealed the exposure and misinformed people about the harmfulness of PFOA.

However, residents started to become suspicious about the rising number of birth defects and leukemia deaths in the city. Soon, the consumers learned about the toxicity of Teflon and filed a class-action lawsuit. The responsible party settled for USD 671 million to pay thousands of these lawsuits.

3. Semper Fi: Always Faithful

The documentary follows the real incidents that happened to Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger. He was a devoted Marine who served as a drill instructor for 25 years at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. However, everything changed when his daughter died from leukemia.

This film highlights Jerry’s struggle as a grief-stricken father who discovers a shocking truth. He learned that the Marine Corps covered up an on-base water contamination event. The story then follows his mission to save the lives of thousands of families and soldiers exposed to this toxicity.

You can learn the following things from this documentary:

  • The environmental mess at military sites and the need for change
  • The government’s responsibility to provide safe drinking water to military families
  • There’s a need for community advocacy and whistleblowing

What Happened in North Carolina?

Between 1953 and 1987, Camp Lejeune residents experienced the harmful impacts of chemical water contamination. An off-base dry cleaning company disposed of TCE, benzene, and other volatile organic compounds in the neighboring water bodies.

As a result, they seeped into the base’s water treatment plants. Residents started to develop cancer and fertility issues from using this contaminated water.

In this incident, the government was the perpetrator, and the victims couldn’t seek justice because of diplomatic immunity. Thankfully, the Biden administration passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), allowing victims to sue the Navy. Only after August 2022 could the veterans and their families file a Camp Lejeune contaminated water lawsuit.

Various lawyers helped the plaintiffs by gathering evidence and assessing the damages. According to TorHoerman Law, the Lejeune victims can receive payouts for medical bills, lost wages, and permanent disabilities. A Reuters report suggests that the government has to pay USD 850,000 in settlement amounts.

4. Flint: The Poisoning of an American City

This documentary successfully gives voice to the five-year struggles of Flint residents. It follows the history of the Flint River and its environmental impacts on the surrounding community. The story depicts how Mother Nature was neglected and abused in the city.

For instance, big corporations built infrastructure and ignored environmental regulations. This documentary also explores how this incident can happen anywhere in the country. It aims to educate everyone about the need for radical change for a subsequent pollution decline.

You can learn the following things from this film:

  • Impact of government failures and environmental negligence
  • Devastating health effects of lead contamination
  • The importance of transparency and public awareness
  • Need for replacing lead pipes all across America

Understanding the Flint Water Crisis

A state-appointed emergency manager’s mistake cost the health of thousands in Flint, Michigan. This manager shifted the city’s water source from Detroit to the already contaminated Flint River.

Unfortunately, insufficient treatment and the water’s quality eroded the pipes. As a result, it introduced lead into the city’s drinking water supply. Reports suggest that residents suffered lead poisoning and developed behavioral disorders, impaired cognition, etc.

The victims also filed a lawsuit to hold the parties accountable for their negligence. A federal court judge approved a USD 626 million settlement for this case.

In summary, these four documentaries serve as a potent reminder of the hidden dangers of American water systems. These stories highlight corporate negligence, government cover-ups, and community resilience. Each informs citizens about the need for systemic change, transparency, and accountability.

We can heed the lessons from these documentaries while navigating the complexities of environmental justice. You can amplify your voice by advocating for meaningful reforms in your community. It’s the only way to keep the future safe and clean.

What do you think?

Written by Zane Michalle

Zane is a Viral Content Creator at UK Journal. She was previously working for Net worth and was a photojournalist at Mee Miya Productions.

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