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Sunday, December 1, 2019

"Dark Waters" 2019 Gripping, Fascinating Glimpse into Evil, Virtue, and Our Own Bodies

William Bucky Bailey 

Hey! I want you to see a movie about toxic waste and a deadly, manmade chemical that is, right now, inside your body, like a timebomb, and will possibly someday cause you or your loved ones to contract cancer or endocrine disorders!

No, really, it's a good movie. "Dark Waters" had my attention throughout, and it wasn't depressing as one might think. That's because the center of the film is a real hero, Robert Bilott, a high-priced lawyer who sacrificed much of his personal and professional life, and his health, to researching the deadly chemical, DuPont's manipulation of the public, and to getting some financial compensation for victims.

Bilott's own book is titled "Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed, and One Lawyer's Twenty-Year Battle against DuPont." That title offers a good plot summary.

Mark Ruffalo stars as Robert Bilott. Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp), a dairy farmer from Bilott's grandmother's West Virginia hometown, asks Bilott to discover why his cows are dying horrible deaths. Another lawyer might walk away, But Bilott, urged on by Tennant, does research and discovers that DuPont, as part of the manufacture of Teflon pans, produces a chemical that harms and kills humans, that never breaks down, and that is found, now, in the bodies of virtually all living things on earth, including humans.

DuPont knew this but hid the information. Bilott's research uncovered DuPont's own extensive reports that detailed exactly how the chemical damaged human bodies. Bilott is shown meeting with DuPont employees who talk frankly about working on Teflon and giving birth to defective babies and needing to have hysterectomies.

A few of the real people involved in this horror show appear in the film. These include William "Bucky" Bailey who was born with one nostril and a deformed eye. He had over thirty surgeries during his childhood. In a YouTube video, Bucky talks about his fears of fathering his own children. He was told he might pass his deformities on.

I grew up near DuPont sites in New Jersey. Higher rates of cancer are reported there. Four members of my immediate family died from cancer and I've had cancer twice. Even so, I was compelled by and appreciated this movie. Watching the dedication of Robert Bilott and his tireless efforts was refreshing. The script and direction maintain a fast pace and I was never bored. In fact the film is a fascinating glimpse into power, the legal system, the rigors of research, evil, and virtue. I didn't have time to sink into despair.

Read William Bucky Bailey's testimony here

From his testimony:

I was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia in early 1981 with numerous birth defects. I only had one nostril, a keyhole pupil, and a serrated eye lid all on my right side. I struggled to breath normally immediately after birth and the doctors told my family it was likely I wouldn’t make it through the night. My mother who was in shock at the time of my birth had no idea what could have caused my birth defects. While pregnant, she was a full-time employee of Dupont at the Washington Works plant in Parkersburg, WV. Her role at the Dupont plant was to control the production of the Teflon chemical PFOA or C-8 in a confined area: keeping the bubbling chemicals under control and pushing excess chemicals, in her words, “out back”.

After my birth and recovering in the hospital my mother recalls receiving phone calls from Dupont representatives inquiring about my health. Upon returning back to work she found evidence that other pregnant women were removed from the Teflon line. She also found studies from 3M, a former manufacturer of Teflon, which found the same birth defects after being exposed to the chemical. Nevertheless , she was told by Dupont that C8 was not the cause of my birth defects.

After dozens of reconstructive surgeries between the ages two and five, my family moved to Virginia as my parents felt called to start a church in the Northern Virginia area. With no health insurance at that time my parents went to court to demand that Dupont to simply pay for the medical expenses for more reconstructive surgeries. However door after door was closed to us by lawyers who refused to take a cases against a corporate giant like Dupont.

Around the age of 25, I came into contact with Rob Billot and was made aware of the litigation, settlement, and scientific study that was happening. I was so glad to hear this and knew the results of the study would show the disposal and contamination of the water and air would be made known publicly. I was disheartened to find out that some of the sickness and disease my mother was facing was caused by this contamination. Knowing that other friends and acquaintances who were battling these sicknesses and diseases, including some who had lost their lives, broke my heart.

My deformities were not determined to  be a result of the contamination, despite admissions by Dupont scientists stating evidence that C8 could harm fetuses. Upon further testing, scientists concluded that my children would have a 50% chance of having the same deformities that I had. Being newly wed it nearly destroyed all hopes I had of building a family with my wife. I knew there was no way I could subject my children to the looks and ridicule, years of medical procedures, and other battles that I faced I knew they would encounter.

The decision to trust my faith in God took approximately 10 years before my wife and I pursued pregnancy. With my son (now 3 years old) and daughter (now 3 months old) completely whole and healthy, I am so thankful they have been spared the issues I have dealt with my entire life. However, today I have another reason for trepidation. With my high levels of the C-8 chemical in my blood, will I have to endure kidney cancer, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, and/or hypercholesterolemia? Will I lose my life to one of these diseases?  

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