Documentary examines drinking water safety

PORT ANGELES — Peninsula College’s Magic of Cinema and the Sierra Club North Olympic Group will host a screening of “What Lies Upstream” at 7 tonight.

The screening will be in Maier Performance Hall on the Peninsula College campus, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Port Angeles.

Andrew Hawley, attorney with Western Environmental Law Center-Seattle, will speak about state water pollution after the film.

In the documentary, filmmaker Cullen Hoback travels to West Virginia to study the loss of clean water for over 300,000 Americans.

In January 2014, West Virginia residents noticed that their tap water had a peculiar smell. It was discovered that a chemical, MCHM, has leaked into the Elk River, poisoning the drinking-water supply for nearly half of West Virginia, organizers said.

Initially all the blame seemed to be directed at Freedom Industries, the company that spilled MCHM, the chemical that traveled downstream before entering the water intake. Then it is discovered that the state Department of Environment Protection hadn’t inspected the firm’s tanks since 1993.

And locals revealed that Freedom Industries was only one small facility in the area they call “The Chemical Valley.”

Hoback discovers a failure of regulatory framework from both state and federal agencies and a wrecked political system, according to the film.

While he’s deep into his work in West Virginia, a similar water crisis strikes Flint, Mich., supporting the case that the entire system to protect drinking water in America is fundamentally broken.

For more information contact Helen [email protected] [email protected]

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