Comment from a citizen in BC:
Sounds like your experience.
But, with caring lawyer.
Not one candidate in last election knew of you or the madness of dissent you received from Supreme Cromwell and Rosa. [Or, perhaps they knew, but have been ordered by the establishment to never admit publicly that they know]
Comment from a Albertan landowner:
I went to see “Dark Waters” last week. I came out of the theatre pissed off that there is not one lawyer in Alberta that would have taken a case like that.
Comments by Ernst:
After abruptly quitting Ernst’s lawsuit (contrary to Law Society rules) 1.5 years ago, Mr. Klippenstein continues to withhold from Ernst her files (fully paid for years ago) that she needs to proceed with her lawsuit, and he ignores her correspondence. Withholding property belonging to clients when lawyers quit is also contrary to law society rules.
Thank you, Mr. Bilott, for your integrity, courage, perserverance, reliability, ethics, stamina and morals, and tremendously tedious painstaking work. All life benefits.
If only there was a lawyer like you in Canada that would take on my case and not try to make me settle and gag, and lie to the public saying Canada’s “justice” system is accessible to all and great, notably given the abusive, unjust, dishonest, money and time wasting shit I’ve endured from judges on my public interest case. For more details of some of the horrors, read Andew Nikiforuk’s Slick Water.
Thank you Democracy Now and especially Amy Goodman!
WATCH AT LINK PART ONE: “Dark Waters”: Meet the Lawyer Whose 20-Year Fight Against DuPont Inspired the New Film by Democracy Now, Jan 23, 2020
WATCH AT LINK PART TWO: Poisoned Water & Corporate Greed: Attorney Robert Bilott on His 20-Year Battle Against Dupont by Democracy Now, Jan 23, 2020
On Wednesday, the Environmental Working Group released a shocking report about how toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS have been found in the drinking water of dozens of U.S. cities, including major metropolitan areas such as Miami, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. We speak to the famed environmental lawyer Rob Bilott about his 20-year battle with DuPont over contaminated drinking water in West Virginia from toxic chemicals used to make Teflon. Bilott’s fight is portrayed in the new film “Dark Waters.”
Transcript of part 1:
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. Tim?
TIM ROBBINS: Well, I wanted to mention where we’re going to be on tour with The New Colossus. It’ll be Charlotte, North Carolina, Knight Theater, January 28th through February 2nd; Schenectady, New York; Detroit, Michigan; Seattle, Washington; Durango, Colorado; Iowa City; Folsom, California; and Nashville, Tennessee.
AMY GOODMAN: And it sounds like it might be going beyond that, beyond — we will see. But we’re going to turn right now to something else you’ve just been focusing on, but a late study — a new study that’s just come out.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And the new study shows that tap water in 43 cities across the United States is contaminated with toxic chemicals known as PFAS, which have been linked to cancer and lowered fertility. The cities include Miami, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. The report was released by the Environmental Working Group.
Water contamination is the subject of the recent Hollywood film Dark Waters, which stars our guest Tim Robbins, as well as Mark Ruffalo and Anne Hathaway. The film tells the story of attorney Rob Bilott’s 20-year battle with DuPont over contaminated drinking water in West Virginia from toxic chemicals used to make Teflon. Mark Ruffalo plays Rob Bilott. Tim Robbins plays his boss. This is the film’s trailer.
ROBERT BILOTT: [played by Mark Ruffalo] Hi, Grandmas.
ROBERT BILOTT’S GRANDMOTHER: What are you doing here?
WILBUR TENNANT: [played by Bill Camp] Your grandma tells me her grandson’s some fancy environment lawyer down in Cincinnati.
ROBERT BILOTT: I am a corporate defense attorney.
WILBUR TENNANT: So?
ROBERT BILOTT: I defend chemical companies.
WILBUR TENNANT: Well, now you can defend me.
ROBERT BILOTT: How many did you lose?
WILBUR TENNANT: A hundred ninety.
ROBERT BILOTT: A hundred and ninety cows?
WILBUR TENNANT: You tell me nothing’s wrong here.
ROBERT BILOTT: It’s a small matter for a family friend, help a guy who needs it.
TOM TERP: [played by Tim Robbins] The farmer or you?
WILBUR TENNANT: That’s chemicals, I’m telling you.
ROBERT BILOTT: I’m seeing documents I don’t understand. They’re hiding something. That chemical, what if you drank it?
DR. GILLESPIE: [played by John Newberg] Drank it? That’s like saying, “What if I swallowed a tire?”
ROBERT BILOTT: What if whatever’s killing those cows is in the drinking water?
PHIL DONNELLY: [played by Victor Garber] At DuPont, better living through chemistry. It’s our DNA.
SARAH BILOTT: [played by Anne Hathaway] You need to tell me what in the hell is going on.
ROBERT BILOTT: DuPont is knowingly poisoning 70,000 local residents for the last 40 years.
You knew. Still you did nothing.
PHIL DONNELLY: You want to flush your career down the toilet for some cowhand?
JAMES ROSS: [played by William Jackson Harper] You want to take everything that you know and turn it against an iconic American company like an informant, isn’t that right? Isn’t that right? Isn’t that right?
ROBERT BILOTT: Yes.
They have all the money, all the firepower. And they’ll use it. I know. I was one of them.
Our government is captive to DuPont. They’re trying to force you to make me stop.
SARAH BILOTT: He was willing to risk his job, his family, for a stranger who needed his help.
ROBERT BILOTT: The system is rigged. They want us to think it will protect us. We protect us. We do.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s the trailer for Dark Waters, based on the work of attorney Rob Bilott, who’s joining us now from Los Angeles. He won the Right Livelihood Award in 2017. He’s just published a new book. It’s called Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed, and One Lawyer’s Twenty-Year Battle Against DuPont. Still with us, director and actor Tim Robbins, who’s one of the stars of the film Dark Waters.
Well, first, before we talk about the film and your book, Rob, this latest news of the new report that finds this — that has detected highly toxic PFAS chemicals in the drinking waters of dozens of major cities across the country?
ROBERT BILOTT: Yeah, you know, and it really highlights that we’re talking about chemical contamination that goes far beyond — excuse me — far beyond one farmer’s property in West Virginia, even one community in West Virginia and Ohio. We’re talking about contamination now that’s in drinking water all across this country and now all across the world.
AMY GOODMAN: And can you tell us — explain what this chemical is and how it got there?
ROBERT BILOTT: Yeah. What we’re talking about is a completely man-made chemical, something that didn’t exist on the planet prior to World War II. It was developed right after the war by the 3M Company, and it was sent down to DuPont, who used it in the manufacturing of Teflon outside their West Virginia plant for about 60 years. Unfortunately, a lot of that occurred in the decades before the U.S. EPA even existed. The U.S. EPA didn’t come into being until 1970. So, tons of this chemical were being used at the plant, emitted out into the environment, into the air, into the water, into the soils in the surrounding community, and sent to facilities all over the country and all over the world that used this product in making a wide variety of consumer products, not just cookware — stain-resistant clothing, fabric coatings, microwave popcorn bags, stain-resistant materials of all kinds, fast-food wrappers, you name it.
So, by the time we finally figured out that this chemical was being used, that it was being emitted into our environment and that it was getting into drinking water all over the country and the blood of virtually every living creature in the planet, it had already been out there and being pumped out into our environment, with really the regulators and the public being completely unaware. And it’s taken quite some time to get that story out and for people to start realizing the scope of this contamination. You know, we’re talking about something that’s contamination of really an unprecedented scale: worldwide contamination of water, soil, the blood of humans and animals all over the planet. And most of us, unfortunately, are just now learning about this, even though the information about the toxicity of these chemicals, the fact that it was getting out in the environment, that it would get into us and stay in us, was known by the companies using these materials for decades. And that information wasn’t shared with the rest of us.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, what’s amazing about the film Dark Waters — and, Tim Robbins, you play Rob’s boss; Mark Ruffalo plays Rob Bilott, the attorney — the plaintiffs in West Virginia, the people who were poisoned, their animals poisoned, their property poisoned by this DuPont factory, go to Rob Bilott because his grandma lived in the area, and they understood he was a corporate lawyer, so he would take on the corporations, as opposed to the fact that, no, he represented the corporations.
TIM ROBBINS: That’s right, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: And you were his boss.
TIM ROBBINS: Yes. And this is a true story. His boss saw the merit in it and said to Rob, who just had become a partner in the law firm, “Go ahead and do it.” And 12 years later, Rob was still going on, and it was costing the firm a lot of money. It was counterintuitive for the firm to do it, but he saw the moral obligation that all of them had, once they knew the truth of this, to pursue the case.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Rob, the lawsuit that you brought, who you represented and what people won, though the world has lost so much and this case continues?
ROBERT BILOTT: Yeah. You know, we started off with the farmer in West Virginia, Mr. Tennant, representing him and his family, then, realizing it was in the drinking water of that entire community, represented about the 70,000 people along the Ohio River in Ohio and West Virginia. And as this contamination, the awareness of it, is spreading across the country, we are now bringing a new case, where we’re seeking to represent everyone in the country, who now has these chemicals in their blood.
And hopefully we can require a independent scientific study to confirm exactly what this broad group of chemicals will do to us. We focused on one of them, PFOA, and that’s the chemical that you see focused on in the movie and in my book, as well. But what we now know is PFOA is just one of many of these man-made synthetic chemicals that are getting out in our water, in our blood, and unfortunately the rest of us don’t have much information about what these other chemicals are doing. So we’re trying to get independent scientific studies to confirm that, and to have it so the rest of us aren’t paying for that.
TIM ROBBINS: And Rob did probably the most extensive blood work study in the area that the farmer was.
AMY GOODMAN: In West Virginia.
TIM ROBBINS: And, you know, Rob, maybe you want to talk about that. Recently —
AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds.
TIM ROBBINS: Oh, sorry. But the EPA has been really — has recently been, a secret memo discovered, trying to get rid of the science of that.
ROBERT BILOTT: Yeah, you know, and that the study that was —
TIM ROBBINS: To protect DuPont.
ROBERT BILOTT: Yeah, the study we did in West Virginia ended up being one of the largest studies ever done of a chemical. We had 70,000 people. And it’s 12 different epidemiological studies, spanning seven years, costing tens of millions of dollars. And the end result was independent scientific confirmation that this chemical causes diseases, including cancers.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to do Part 2 at democracynow.org. Rob Bilott, thanks so much for joining us. His new book is called Exposure. And Oscar-winning actor and director Tim Robbins. The film is Dark Waters. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.
PFAS Contamination of Drinking Water Far More Prevalent Than Previously Reported, New Detections of ‘Forever Chemicals’ in New York, D.C., Other Major Cities by Sydney Evans, David Andrews, Ph.D., Tasha Stoiber, Ph.D., and Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., Jan 22, 2020, ewg.org
New laboratory tests commissioned by EWG have for the first time found the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS in the drinking water of dozens of U.S. cities, including major metropolitan areas. The results confirm that the number of Americans exposed to PFAS from contaminated tap water has been dramatically underestimated by previous studies, both from the Environmental Protection Agency and EWG’s own research.
Based on our tests and new academic research that found PFAS widespread in rainwater, EWG scientists now believe PFAS is likely detectable in all major water supplies in the U.S., almost certainly in all that use surface water. EWG’s tests also found chemicals from the PFAS family that are not commonly tested for in drinking water.
Of tap water samples from 44 places in 31 states and the District of Columbia, only one location had no detectable PFAS, and only two other locations had PFAS below the level that independent studies show pose risks to human health. Some of the highest PFAS levels detected were in samples from major metropolitan areas, including Miami, Philadelphia, New Orleans and the northern New Jersey suburbs of New York City.
In 34 places where EWG’s tests found PFAS, contamination has not been publicly reported by the Environmental Protection Agency or state environmental agencies. Because PFAS are not regulated, utilities that have chosen to test independently are not required to make their results public or report them to state drinking water agencies or the EPA.
EWG’s samples – collected by staff or volunteers between May and December 2019 – were analyzed by an accredited independent laboratory for 30 different PFAS chemicals, a tiny fraction of the thousands of compounds in the family of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. An EPA-mandated sampling program that ended in 2015 tested for only a few types of PFAS and required utilities to report only detections of a higher minimal level. The EPA also only mandated testing for systems serving more than 10,000 people, whereas EWG’s project included a sample from a smaller system excluded from the EPA program. Because of those limitations, the EPA reported finding PFAS at only seven of the locations where EWG’s tests found contamination.
In the 43 samples where PFAS was detected, the total level varied from less than 1 part per trillion, or ppt, in Seattle and Tuscaloosa, Ala., to almost 186 ppt in Brunswick County, N.C. The only sample without detectable PFAS was from Meridian, Miss., which draws its drinking water from wells more than 700 feet deep.
The samples with detectable levels of PFAS contained, on average, six or seven different compounds. One sample had 13 different PFAS at varying concentrations. The list of the 30 PFAS compounds we tested for, and the frequency with which they were detected, is detailed in the appendix.
PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because once released into the environment they do not break down, and they build up in our blood and organs. Exposure to PFAS increases the risk of cancer, harms the development of the fetus and reduces the effectiveness of vaccines. Biomonitoring studies by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the blood of nearly all Americans is contaminated with PFAS.
The most notorious PFAS compounds are PFOA, formerly used by DuPont to make Teflon, and PFOS, formerly an ingredient in 3M’s Scotchgard. Those compounds have been phased out under pressure from the EPA, but they persist in drinking water, people and the environment. In EWG’s tests, PFOA was detected in 30 of 44 samples, and PFOS in 34 samples. The two compounds represented approximately a quarter of the total PFAS level in each sample.
EWG has mapped PFAS contamination of drinking water or ground water in almost 1,400 sites in 49 states. Previously, our analysis of unpublished EPA data estimates that water supplies for 110 million Americans may be contaminated with PFAS – an estimate that could be much too low, based on our new findings.
The EPA was first alerted to the problem of PFAS in drinking water in 2001 but in almost 20 years has failed to set an enforceable, nationwide legal limit. In 2016, the agency issued a non-enforceable lifetime health advisory for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water of 70 ppt. Independent scientific studies have recommended a safe level for PFAS in drinking water of 1 ppt, which is endorsed by EWG.
In the absence of a federal standard, states have started to set their own legal limits. New Jersey was the first to set to a maximum contaminant limit for the compound PFNA, at 13 ppt, and has proposed standards of 13 ppt for PFOS and 14 ppt for PFOA. Some other states have now set or proposed limits or guidelines for PFAS in drinking water, including California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina and Vermont.
EWG Tests Uncover Contamination Missed by EPA
EWG’s results are in sharp contrast to nationwide sampling by most public water systems mandated by the EPA between 2013 and 2015. In the EPA tests, 36 of 43 water systems tested reported no detectable PFAS, including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, D.C. The EPA’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring program included only six PFAS compounds, and the minimum reporting limits were from 10 ppt to 90 ppt, obscuring the full scope of PFAS contamination.
Since the EPA program ended there has been no further nationwide testing of public water systems for PFAS. Some states, including New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania and California, have conducted additional sampling and made the results public. And some local communities, including Ann Arbor, Mich., and Wilmington, N.C., regularly test for PFAS and release the results.
But other communities have been less forthcoming with PFAS test data. The Philadelphia Water Department states that it is “proactively testing for PFAS in source water and has not detected concentrations above EPA’s advisory level.” EWG’s tests of Philadelphia water show total PFAS concentrations at nearly 50 ppt.
Our results are meant to highlight the ubiquity of PFAS and the vulnerability of the nation’s drinking water supply to PFAS contamination. They underscore what an expert at the Water and Environmental Technology Center at Temple University, in Philadelphia, said about PFAS contamination: “If you sample, you will find it.”
EWG’s tests represent a single sample from each water system and may not represent what is coming out of a tap today. Results from a single sample form a snapshot of what was found in tap water at a specific site. They are likely representative of the water in the area where the sample was taken but are not intended to identify specific water systems. The cities and counties listed may be served by multiple public water systems, serving various proportions of the area’s population.Stop the Spread of PFAS Contamination!
We need Washington to get PFAS out of our environment and bodies and hold polluters accountable. Can we count on you to stand with EWG?
Fill out the form below to add your name to EWG’s petition.
The compounds in EWG’s study are a small fraction of the entire PFAS class of thousands of different chemicals – more than 600 are in active use – including the new generation of so-called short-chain PFAS chemicals. Chemical companies claim that short-chain PFAS are safer than the long-chain predecessors they replaced, but the EPA allowed them on the market without adequate safety testing, and the new chemicals may pose even more serious problems.
A recent study by a team of scientists at Auburn University reported that short-chain PFAS are “more widely detected, more persistent and mobile in aquatic systems, and thus may pose more risks on the human and ecosystem health” than the long-chain compounds. The researchers also noted that existing drinking water treatment approaches for the removal of long-chain PFAS are less effective for short-chain PFAS. Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found PFAS, primarily the shorter-chain types, in all 37 rainwater samples they collected from around the country.
Options for Drinking Water Systems To Address PFAS Contamination
There is no simple and inexpensive technology for removing PFAS from drinking water effectively. Selecting drinking water treatment options to remove PFAS typically requires a case-by-case evaluation to identify the best option and to design and install a treatment facility.
Current options for drinking water treatment technologies to remove PFAS include granular activated carbon, ion exchange and reverse osmosis. Of these, granular activated carbon, or GAC, is the most common, with many water treatment facilities already using it to remove other contaminants. The design of the GAC filter and how often the carbon is exchanged can affect performance significantly. Some of the systems tested already use GAC filters, including those serving Ann Arbor, Mich., and the Quad Cities, in Iowa. Reverse osmosis is the most effective technology, but it is also the most expensive. Ion exchange is a newer technology for PFAS removal, with a limited number of current installations.
The type of PFAS present, such as long- or short-chain, their concentrations and the potential presence of other contaminants all are factors that determine which treatment technology will be most effective or appropriate. Studies have shown that perfluorinated sulfonates, such as PFOS, are more effectively removed than perfluoroalkyl acids, such as PFOA, and that longer-chain PFAS are more effectively removed by GAC than shorter-chain.
Studies have demonstrated that reverse osmosis treatment is effective for removal of all types of long and shorter-chain PFAS we tested for, including PFOS, PFOA, PFBS, PFHxS, PFHxA and PFNA. This technology can also be combined with GAC to achieve higher removal rates or maintain the efficacy of the sensitive reverse osmosis membranes. However, water-treatment-plant-size reverse osmosis systems are expensive, require significant expenditures of energy and waste a lot of water, a problem in water-scarce areas.
Operating and maintenance costs are also important components to consider as part of the design of a long-term treatment plant, as are options for the disposal of PFAS removed from drinking water. Identifying safe ways to dispose of “forever chemicals” creates a new set of challenges. Once loaded with PFAS, GAC and ion exchange resins require disposal and could end up in incinerators or landfills and create contamination issues for local communities. PFAS-loaded wastewater produced from reverse osmosis must be treated before disposal.
If PFAS Is Detected in Your Water
This project demonstrates the far-reaching PFAS contamination of U.S. drinking water, showing the urgent need for wider testing.
Judging from information from state health agencies, testing labs, and scientific researchers, the most effective choice for in-home treatment of PFAS-tainted tap water is a reverse osmosis system that combines an activated carbon filter with a reverse osmosis membrane.
Although some bottled water companies voluntarily meet industry standards for PFAS, there is no government requirement for PFAS testing of bottled water, no public information about potential PFAS contamination of water supplies that manufacturers use for production of bottled water, and no guarantee that the levels of PFAS in bottled waters are lower than those of tap water. For example, in 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health advised pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants to avoid drinking certain brands of bottled water due to their high levels of PFAS contamination.
Use EWG’s tip sheet to learn more about other products, materials, or activities that may be sources of exposure to PFAS in your home or local environment and how to avoid them. For more information about PFAS and what EWG is doing to combat this contamination crisis, visit our “Forever Chemicals” website.
What Policymakers Should Do
Federal and state policymakers should set science-based drinking water standards for PFAS in tap water, reduce ongoing PFAS discharges into water supplies, end non-essential uses of PFAS, require reporting of ongoing PFAS discharges into water supplies, ensure that PFAS wastes are properly disposed of, and expand PFAS monitoring efforts. Congress recently enacted legislation that will expand PFAS reporting and monitoring, but lawmakers have so far failed to set drinking water standards for most states, restrict ongoing PFAS releases into drinking water supplies, or clean up legacy PFAS contamination.Share on FacebookShare on Twitter
EWG’s 44 tap water samples were tested by an accredited independent laboratory, using a modified version of EPA Method 537. This table lists the 30 PFAS compounds the lab tested for, and the minimum detection limits for each one.
Guide to PFAS Chemicals
parts per trillion
|Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid
|10:2 Fluorotelomer sulfonic acid
|4:2 Fluorotelomer sulfonic acid
|6:2 Fluorotelomer sulfonic acid
|8:2 Fluorotelomer sulfonic acid
sulfonamido acetic acid
sulfonamido acetic acid
|Perfluorobutane sulfonic acid
|Perfluorododecane sulfonic acid
|Perfluorodecane sulfonic acid
|Perfluoroheptane sulfonic acid
|Perfluorohexane sulfonic acid
|Perfluorononane sulfonic acid
This table lists the number of times an individual PFAS chemical was detected in the samples analyzed, as well as those that were not detected in any sample.
Frequency of PFAS Detections by Chemical
|Number of samples where
chemical was detected1
parts per trillion
|Chemicals not detected in any sample
4:2 FTSA, 8:2 FTSA, 10:2 FTSA, ADONA, NEtFOSAA, NMeFOSAA, PFDoDA, PFDoDS, PFDS, PFHpS, PFHxDA, PFNS, PFODA, PFTeDA, PFTrDA, PFUnA
1 Number of detections out of 44 water samples
2 Range of concentrations for individual PFAS in samples where the compound was detected.
These tables provide details of each sample tested, including the sample collection date and the levels of individual PFAS chemicals detected in the sample.
Refer also to:
“Klippenstein, admittedly, ‘would not be the person’ he is ‘without freedom of thought and expression,’ so where’s his outrage at the legal suppressing of those freedoms – aka gag orders? And who would he be then, with his mouth legally taped shut?” Comment to Andrew Nikiforuk’s article in The Tyee on Klippenstein & Wanless quitting