- Title: Slamdance film explores
- Date: 27th January 2017
- Summary: PARK CITY, UTAH, UNITED STATES (RECENT - JANUARY 19, 2017) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) DIRECTOR, CULLEN HOBACK, SAYING: "Every chemical that humans consume from cocaine to nicotine to antidepressants all our getting into our rivers, they get into sewage treatment plants. In the United States, chemical manufacturers and whoever uses chemicals now have the ability to just flush them down the drain instead of releasing them into the ocean so it's into the rivers and then all of that ends up getting through those treatment plants and into the water."
- Embargoed: 10th February 2017 00:58
- Keywords: Water pollution drinking water Cullen Hoback Slamdance film festival climate Donald Trump
- Location: PARK CITY, UTAH, UNITED STATES; UNIDENTIFIED FILMING LOCATIONS
- City: PARK CITY, UTAH, UNITED STATES; UNIDENTIFIED FILMING LOCATIONS
- Country: USA
- Topics: Pollution,Environment
- Reuters ID: LVA00660UT6IV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The Sundance film festival this year has climate change at front and center. Its offshoot festival, Slamdance, also dealt with similar issues, and opened with 'What Lies Upstream', a documentary about chemicals polluting water supplies in the United States and what regulators are doing about it.
The film follows director Cullen Hoback as he starts by investigating a story surrounding a water supply in West Virginia. Residents had been complaining to authorities about a strange smell in their water supply and soon after they are told to stop drinking and bathing in the water.
As Hoback explores how a particular chemical, MCHM, leaked into the community's water supply, the documentary opens up further to look at how many chemicals exist in everyday tap water and how little is done to regulate the pollution.
"Testing for problems in our water is very difficult," Hoback told Reuters. "In the United States, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) only requires the testing of less than 100 chemicals - it's really 76. There are more than 80,000 chemicals used in commerce so you get a sense about just how poor the system is really working especially when you learn that we aren't getting that right. We're not even getting lead right, let alone everything else that's appearing in the water supply."
Water pollution has hit the headlines in recent years, most prominently because of reports about Flint, Michigan where the town's water supply was discovered to have, among other things, high lead levels.
"More than 3,500 communities in this country have lead situations worse than Flint," said Hoback. "The reality here is that our regulators aren't looking for problems that they don't want to find so there could be much more wrong.... there certainly is much more wrong not just in America but all over the world that is not being discovered because no-one is looking for it."
"Every chemical that humans consume from cocaine to nicotine to antidepressants all our getting into our rivers, they get into sewage treatment plants. In the United States, chemical manufacturers and whoever uses chemicals now have the ability to just flush them down the drain instead of releasing them into the ocean so it's into the rivers and then all of that ends up getting through those treatment plants and into the water," he added.
US President Donald Trump features in the film talking about environmental issues during his election campaign. When asked how he felt that the water supply would be under the Trump administration, Hoback replied "He said he's going to get rid of 70 to 80 per cent of all the regulations. He's going to wildly downsize the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) or maybe get rid of it altogether so what will the future of our water and our environment and our health be like under a Trump administration? You don't have to look much further than his appointments and you don't have to look much further than West Virginia. That story that unfolded before my eyes there feels like the story that's unfolding in America."
'What Lies Upstream', which was described by Variety as a "quietly devastating documentary", gives a bleak look at the state of the US water supply but Hoback says there are solutions.
"There are systems out there that can fix our water, improve our infrastructure but it costs a lot of money so right now it comes down to basically the individual to decide if they want to spend the money or can afford to spend the money to have clean water," Hoback said.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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