Revealed: How to Poison A Planet (2024) Movie Script

WOMAN: Do you solemnly swear the
testimony you're about to give
to be the truth, the whole truth
and nothing but the truth?
Yes, I do.
MAN: Hi, Dr Butenhoff.
My name is Ned McWilliams
and I'm one of the attorneys
the various water districts
around the country
that's suing your company, 3M,
among others.
SONG: Man-made chemicals are
Poisoning the Earth
MAN: There were companies
and people
that knew the nature and extent
of this threat
but did it anyway.
Chemists move molecules around
Like we move furniture...
MAN: You can't help but ask
what kind of people do that?
After we're dead and gone
It will be here
a million years...
WOMAN: This has to be
the most explosive information
that I've found.
We'll all be dead and gone
And cried a billion tears...
MAN: It was
our 'holy shit' moment.
Like, people do this?!
In the water...
WOMAN: Do you swear to tell
the truth, the whole truth
and nothing but the truth,
so help you God?
MAN: I do.
MAN: If you wanted to
contaminate the planet,
you couldn't have invented
a better delivery device
than firefighting foam.
Flowing deep in the water.
MAN: Our old people
have always had a... a really
special intimate relationship
with this place.
And when we go to special places
like this,
it's really important
that we pay respect... all this part here,
all this country, the water,
the trees...
...grass, everything that's here.
It's all connected
and it was all here before us
and we're obligated
to take care of it.
WOMAN: The Wreck Bay
Aboriginal fishing community
is tucked away
in a little bit of paradise
on the south coast
of New South Wales.
It's pristine ocean.
And when you look across to the
distance, it's the mountains
and they're quite blue because
of our eucalypt that we have.
It's actually a place
right on the ocean
that is just us, you know,
and it's been like that
for thousands of years.
MATTHEW: Wreck Bay has always
been a fishing village
and everything is here.
Everything is here in abundance.
WOMAN: We'd go diving.
You know,
little ones that I'd get
are little abalones or oysters.
So we wouldn't go home
to have lunch.
We'd have lunch as we catch it.
So full of culture and heritage.
It was a child's playground
in paradise.
MATTHEW: We don't exist.
If... if we don't have water,
we're not here.
It's who we are.
REPORTER: But now there's
trouble in paradise.
PFAS chemicals
used in firefighting foam
have leached out
from a navy airfield
known as the Jervis Bay
Range Facility.
Head along Wreck Bay Road.
See through there?
That's the east-west runway
Into the right here,
we've got the training centre
where they do
all their fire drills.
Where the PFAS
was kept and stored.
But everything from there,
from their training centre,
all that water...
...every time it rains,
everything runs down this hill
and it runs straight into
little gutters and creeks
and... and... all of these
little nooks and crannies
that all flow down
into Wreck Bay
and then it runs into...
into our ocean down here.
The two main, um, killers
in the community
is from heart... heart attack
and cancer.
I had a... um, cancerous cyst
in my pancreas.
Pancreatic cancer is very brutal
and savage.
Since January,
we've had six funerals.
So a lot of alarm bells
was ringing.
You know, it's a chemical
used for something...
...that's like a business model.
And when you look at that,
it's all to do with that,
to do with money.
If we can be taken
right back to those places
where people signed
that dotted line
and where that was
a business transaction,
you know, those people
need to be made accountable.
The whole process that
it's gone through to get here
and to poison our beautiful part
of country has to be unpacked.
MAN: I think once people
start to see this story,
um, and see how much information
was known by this company
going back as far as it does,
and knowing how much
of the current PFAS
contamination problem
could have been prevented,
I think there are gonna be a lot
of people that are very angry.
MAN 2: How do you,
in good conscience,
if you're aware that a product
that you manufacture,
and are essentially
the exclusive manufacturer of,
and you know
that it's in the blood
of the general population
all around the world,
how is it that you could
in good conscience
not tell folks?
And you let generation
after generation be exposed...
- Right.
-, in the name of profits.
I guess that's the goal
of our trial,
is to... to tell that story.
We're talking about
worldwide contamination
and, what, 3M knew
and when they knew it.
ROB: I mean, if you think
about the amount of effort
3M has spent over the years
to keep this under wraps,
you know, to make sure that
people didn't see this evidence.
And, again,
it's just remarkable to me
that we're now having
to... to prepare these cases
to go to trial
to get these people
to accept responsibility
for what they did.
GARY: Right.
And there's no doubt who did it.
If you wanted to deliberately
contaminate the planet
with PFAS,
you couldn't have invented
a better delivery device
than firefighting foam
where you're literally spraying
it into the environment,
into the water, and don't do
anything to clean it up
and just let it soak in,
let it leach through the...
through the ground
into the aquifers,
into people's drinking water
and that's exactly
what they did.
(SINGS) Man-made chemicals are
Poisoning the Earth
Chemists move molecules around
Like we move furniture...
GARY: I was always drawn
to being a trial lawyer,
which is, I like to say,
it's sort of performative art.
The only difference is I have
a much more captive audience
when I have a jury.
They have to sit
and listen to me.
I started out
as a struggling musician
for the first 30 years
of my life.
(SINGS) Rollin' down
ol' River Road...
We played everywhere.
We played some of the most
famous punk rock scenes
of the '70s and '80s in New York
and we had a blast.
Give me hope, give me strength
And the faith
when I need it most...
I did not go to law school
till I was 30
and I realised I had...
(LAUGHS) make a living.
Holding on.
- And I also believed...
- (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) pursuing just causes,
so I would look
to defend the little guy.
I got recruited by a firm
that was doing tobacco
litigation for plaintiffs
and we would be representing
thousands of people.
And I won.
I think at that time it was
the third successful case
in the United States.
And then Rob Bilott,
um, reached out to me.
His cases were gonna go to trial
and he needed a trial lawyer.
I was working at a law firm
where we were helping
big corporate clients,
a lot of big chemical companies.
And I got a call in my office
one day
from a gentleman who identified
himself as Mr Tennant
out in West Virginia
and was telling me
that he had cows dying
that I needed to help him with.
He was convinced
there was something
obviously in this white foam
coming out of this landfill
owned by DuPont
that was impacting the cows.
By the time he had
called me in 1998,
he had lost over a hundred
of these animals.
That call led to what became
the next several decades
of litigation
involving these
PFAS "forever chemicals".
GARY: We represented
a class of 3,000 people.
We tried three individual cases,
won them all
and DuPont... (LAUGHS)
...finally caved in
and settled
with all 3,000 people
in that community.
ROB: It ended up
being on the cover
of the 'New York Times'
After that story came out,
one of the people
that apparently had seen
the story and reached out to me
was Mark Ruffalo.
You knew.
Still you did nothing.
REPORTER: 'Dark Waters' tells
the true story of Robert Bilott,
the underdog lawyer who
took on the industrial giant
DuPont Chemical.
MAN: 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?
- Yes!
- Hey.
- Oh. Oh, man.
- So good to see you.
- Yeah, you too.
- How are you doing?
- Awesome.
- Oh, buddy, it's been too long.
- Yeah!
- Good to see you. Yeah.
- Good to see you.
- It's almost been two years.
- Yeah.
The film, you know,
that we did together,
it seems to have created a space
to start to change everything.
- Would you say that was true?
- Absolutely.
I think it really showed people,
"Wait a minute,
"this stuff,
it's not just in the water
"in a town in West Virginia."
This stuff that
we were dealing with
and that you see in the film,
'Dark Waters',
it's the same chemicals now
that are in the water in the UK,
in Germany, in Italy,
in Australia, in Japan.
This story... (SCOFFS)'s... it's playing out
all over the world now.
This was always the... thing
that was astonishing to me,
that people made the decision
to go forward
with putting
these chemicals in...
...our environment.
They knew what they were doing.
Those were decisions
that were made by people.
You can't help but ask...
...what kind of people do that?
MAN: 3M were a large
multinational conglomerate
chemical company.
They're based in Minnesota.
They go back to the 1800s.
And they're in
the business of selling
thousands of different
commercial and industrial
It's a multibillion-dollar
and they were back in the '70s
when this all got started.
ROB: PFAS is per- and
polyfluoroalkylated substances.
It is a family of completely
man-made chemicals.
These are chemicals that
never existed on the planet
prior to World War II.
The two chemicals that we... that
we've been talking about here
that we know the most about
in this PFAS family
are the ones that have
eight carbons - the C8s.
That's PFOA
and PFOS.
Both of these, really,
were created by 3M.
PFOA was sold primarily
to DuPont
to use in things like Teflon.
PFOS, on the other hand,
was one that was
primarily used by 3M
in a lot of its own products,
things like Scotchgard.
And also they made this thing
called Scotchban.
Think of like, uh,
a... a hamburger wrapper.
That special paper where the
grease doesn't leak through it?
That was what these products
were primarily used for.
PFOS was very much
their secret sauce,
their proprietary chemical.
No-one outside of 3M
had ever made it before,
had ever seen it before,
knew anything about it.
3M also started using PFOS,
and then in later years
PFOA was used as well,
in making a product called
aqueous film forming foam...
...a type of firefighting foam
used to combat petroleum fires.
This was created primarily
around the 1960s
and started being sold
to the US military.
And over the last
several decades,
this product,
this... this firefighting foam
that's containing
these PFAS chemicals,
has been sold to airports,
fire stations,
military personnel,
firefighters all over the world.
And this whole other story
started to become apparent
of how much the...
the Department of Defense
was using this
and how many bases
throughout the United States
were poisoned
and how many firefighters...
...who are covered in this stuff.
And are told,
"You spray it all out there,"
even though these companies
when they were making this stuff
it's got PFAS in it.
ROB: And these types
of chemicals
when they get out
into the environment,
they never break down.
And so the problem is
not only do these chemicals
get out into our environment
and stay there...
...they're incredibly toxic
and they've been found to be
incredibly persistent,
and, unfortunately
in some situations,
carcinogenic as well.
A lot of the information
that has come out over the years
has focused on
what DuPont was doing
and what DuPont knew
about these chemicals
and how DuPont had covered up
information about
the health threat here.
There hasn't been as much
information available
about what 3M knew
about these chemicals.
This is the company
that actually created these
at the beginning.
GARY: The stakes are enormous
because it's about holding
to account chemical companies
that have been responsible
for manufacturing a product
that has contaminated virtually
everyone and everything
on the planet
from here to Australia
to Europe to China.
WOMAN: We're just
on the northern edge
of the airfield here.
We've just had bucketloads
of rain falling down
and now all this foam
seems to be coming down
the waterways off the base.
You'd have to say
that would have to be PFAS.
I've been reporting
on PFAS contamination
for about eight years now.
It really is one of those issues
where every time
you turn the stone over,
you just find something new.
This is the only road
that takes you into Wreck Bay.
We're just approaching
the naval college on our right.
This is where the majority
of the cadets
have done their fire training
and so you'd have to think
that the majority
of the PFAS contamination
has come from this area.
So any training
that they've done here
is gonna have
flushed down the hill,
straight towards the village
of Wreck Bay.
So, really,
in this national park,
you could not have
a worse possible spot
to be doing your fire training
with toxic PFAS chemicals.
CARRIE: Hi, Uncle Jack.
- JACK: Hi, Carrie. How are you?
- CARRIE: Yeah.
- I'm really well, thanks.
- JACK: Yeah?
- CARRIE: How are you?
- Good, thank you.
JACK: I started as a ranger
in 1968.
I was the first Aboriginal
ranger in the Territory.
We were doing
all our firefighting modules
up at the Jervis Bay
Range Facility.
If we wanted to put out
an oil fire,
we'd have to use the foam
and the water to put it out.
If we wanted to go into a big,
uh, tank or... or like a cabin,
we'd have to crawl through
in the water and everything else
while they had all the smoke
and fire in there.
And what... what would happen,
we'd come out all soaking wet
from the foam
and everything else
and we'd have to, uh, go
near a fire and dry ourself out.
- Oh, wow!
- Yeah.
So you were actually
crawling through water
that had the foam in it.
- Is that right?
- Yeah, it had... Yeah. Yeah.
CARRIE: And did you ever use
anything to protect yourself,
gloves and things,
when you're handling the foam?
- UNCLE JACK: No. No. No.
- That kind of thing.
- We'd just use our bare hands.
- Wild. Oh, wow.
And with a helmet on.
Not even a... a face mask.
- Wow.
- And our overalls.
And our boots. Mmm.
CARRIE: So, of the firefighters
you worked with,
how many are still alive now?
UNCLE JACK: There'd be only
about eight of us.
- CARRIE: Wow.
- That I know of.
The rest of them
have all passed on.
And so how many, roughly,
would you say have passed?
UNCLE JACK: I'd say...
...between 20 and 22...
...hmm, have passed.
MAN: The navy asked us
if we want to do some training
up at the aerodrome.
They said, "We use foam."
I said, "That's alright."
'Cause I didn't know
what was in the foam.
I've had, uh, prostate cancer,
which I've had
my prostate removed.
They found that I had
cirrhosis of the liver.
Every doctor I've been to,
they've asked me,
"Are you a heavy drinker?"
"No, sir.
"I'm not a heavy drinker."
The cancers that you've had,
are those sort of
any possibility
that they were
inherited down the line
like hereditary cancers?
- No. No.
- No.
There's no history of it
in... in my...
you know, my family.
All these different types of
deformities and blood disorders
and... and cancers
that have come to our community
can't be just... hereditary
and it can't be just... you know,
a... a fate of bad luck.
It has to have come
from something else.
CARRIE: One of
the biggest stories
I've ever written in my career
would have to be
the story I wrote
about Tartan High School,
that was basically on the
doorstep of 3M's headquarters.
They'd had plants over there
that were manufacturing PFAS
and that the PFAS had
contaminated the drinking water.
So I started googling
the name of this town
where their headquarters was,
which was called Oakdale,
and I was just blown away
to see these articles coming up
about these kids
who were dying of cancer
at the local high school.
So I just remember this moment,
it was like a lightning bolt,
of how... how could this happen,
number one?
And... and number two,
why was no-one talking about
why all these kids
were dying of cancer
and... and the potential... seemed to have made
that connection
to the contamination
of the drinking water?
Most of them had grown up
drinking water
that was contaminated with PFAS
and their parents
had even drinking that water
while they were in utero.
So once I got over there,
I just went doorknocking.
So I managed to find, um, a few
names of the kids that had died
and I went and knocked
on those doors.
And then it just
spread and spread.
And by the end of the two weeks,
I'd managed to find
21 cancer cases at that school
that all happened
within a 15-year period.
The types of cancers ranged
from Hodgkin's lymphoma,
to bone cancer,
and about six cases
of brain tumours.
And, tragically,
at the time of my visit,
five of the students
had already passed away
at a really young age.
I met a lot of the students.
And one of the ones
that really stood out to me
was Amara Strande.
When I was 15,
I was diagnosed with
fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma,
an incredibly rare liver cancer.
The chances of being diagnosed
with fibrolamellar
is 1 in 5 million.
CARRIE: At the time
that I saw her,
she'd only just
got out of hospital
from being in a coma for 33 days
after her liver tumour
was removed.
And I remember just
going to her house.
She was very switched-on
and she just wanted to know
everything that I knew
about PFAS.
And after I went home,
she just kept going
and researching
and speaking to people.
And there was just
something about her.
I had no idea of how significant
that meeting was gonna be
in the grand scheme of things.
She didn't have any fear about
going up against
people who were more powerful
than her.
ROB: We got involved with 3M
back in 2005.
That's when these chemicals
were discovered in the water
outside of their manufacturing
plant in Minnesota by the state.
You know, we were asked to
come in and help the community,
who was being exposed
to these chemicals
in their drinking water.
Unfortunately, when we...
when we started pursuing
the litigation in Minnesota,
one of the first things 3M did
was go into the local court
and get a blanket
protective order.
They essentially were able to
designate every single document
as confidential.
So despite the fact
that we were able to see
these internal studies and
these internal documents of 3M,
we weren't able to share those
for years.
And, in fact,
a lot of those documents
are only just now being
made available to the public.
And some additional documents
are just now coming out
through this litigation
over firefighting foam.
So this is the first one
that sort of shows
the water treatment plant
and you can see over there
in the end
it's got the four
ion exchange vessels
that they've constructed so far.
Yeah, so our jurors
can see an aerial shot
of what the whole
treatment plant,
um, to remove PFAS...looks like.
GARY: So a few years back,
EPA empanelled a group
of some of the world's
leading scientists and experts
in the area of
PFAS contamination.
They concluded that PFOA and
PFOS are likely to cause cancer
and other human health effects,
in fact.
And they determined that
"there is no dose
"below which either chemical
is considered safe".
In other words,
there is no safe level.
REPORTER: Now the City of Stuart
is taking several manufacturers
of the foam to federal court,
including corporate giant, 3M,
claiming 3M knew
but didn't tell the city
about the toxic
contamination risks.
Stuart was chosen to represent
hundreds of communities
across the country
who want 3M to pay
for their
clean-up testing
and filtration.
You know, why should the victims
here of this contamination,
the people that are drinking
this in their homes every day,
be the ones stuck
with those costs?
Why should the cities
and the municipalities
that are now having
to filter this out
have to be the ones
to pay for this?
And it's just mind-blowing to me
that we're... (CHUCKLES)
...having to go to trial
to get responsibility accepted
for those costs.
With respect to
firefighting foam specifically,
as you know, they... they...
they argue that the "end user",
the firefighters who've been
training with foam,
um, are at fault.
Um, and, of course, as you know,
it's mostly used for training
as opposed to actual fires.
Um, so most of the contamination
is from training
where they're not
actually saving lives
in any way, shape or form.
So in this litigation
which is being seen
by Judge Richard Gergel
in Charleston, South Carolina,
in federal court,
all of the cases
across the country
have been consolidated
before him
and he's decided that the water
provider cases should go first.
REPORTER: The city
wants to be awarded
more than $100 million
to cover what has already
been spent on projects
like a multimillion-dollar
treatment plant
and filtration system,
keeping the levels
of the chemicals
undetectable or below
the health advisory limit.
GARY: The story
that we put together
really started, um, years ago.
In the course of
what we call discovery,
the defendants and 3M
and the other
defendant companies,
manufacturers of PFAS,
were required by court order
to start producing
their internal files,
anything that had
and that was related to PFAS
or aqueous film forming foam.
And over the course
of the next four years,
they produced about
37 million pages of documents.
And from that we were able
to pick out those documents
that really told a story
and it really starts in 1975.
If I were to give it a name
in this whole longer timeline,
this early part of the timeline,
I would call 'The Shit
Hits the Fan - Part 1'.
WOMAN: A, B. A, B common mark.
This is, uh,
so incredibly fucked and evil.
(READS) "In the summer of 1975,
"Dr Warren Guy,
"a toxicologist and professor
at the University of Florida,
"calls 3M's corporate
headquarters concerning research
"he and Dr Donald Taves,
a toxicologist and professor,
"are planning to present
at a symposium
"organised by
the American Chemical Society.
"Dr Guy and Dr Taves
have discovered the presence
"of an unidentified organic
fluorine chemical compound
"in human blood..."
"..obtained from the blood banks
in five US cities."
NED: Imagine
these two outside researchers
found this fingerprint
on a crime scene
but they didn't know
who to match it to.
They could tell some things
about it.
They could tell it was 8-chain,
they could tell
it was fluorinated,
and based on that, they knew
that there was this company
up in Minnesota, 3M,
they made chemicals like that.
GARY: They contacted 3M
and asked them,
"Hey, we found
this funny-looking compound
"that's not known in nature."
And this is the actual
telephone memo
from that... of that call
on August 20, 1975.
And it begins,
"Dr Guy called again
"to see if we had
any further ideas
"as to the possible sources
of the fluorocarbon."
Then they literally
pled ignorance.
But the internal documents
have since revealed
3M did its own analysis
and was able to confirm,
yes, this was 3M's stuff
that was being found in
the general population's blood.
GARY: They had known internally
that what these two scientists
had stumbled on
was actually PFOS,
which is the one particular PFAS
that is essentially unique
to 3M.
ROB: At that point, 3M started
looking at its own workers
to try to figure out,
"Is this getting
into the blood of our workers
"who are working with
these chemicals?"
Sure enough, 3M had found this
stuff, this organic fluoride,
was getting in its own workers.
They notified one of
their main customers
for these chemicals, DuPont,
who was buying PFOA.
DuPont went out and started
testing its workers in 1978.
Sure enough,
DuPont found organic fluoride
getting into its workers
as well.
So by this point of time,
in the late 1970s,
both 3M and DuPont
knew these chemicals
were getting into
general population's blood
and workers who were exposed.
NED: Yeah, all hell broke loose.
They immediately started
all these investigations.
For example,
they started toxicology testing.
They went out
and they got a bunch of mice,
rats, monkeys, guinea pigs,
and they did a whole slew
of toxicology tests,
and the results were bad.
They were vomiting,
there was liver necrosis,
haemorrhaging in their
gastrointestinal tract,
tremors, convulsions.
"20 of the 28 rhesus monkeys
in the study
"die as a result
of their exposures to PFOS."
It sent shock waves
within the company.
They said, "This chemical's now
considered extremely toxic,
"more toxic than
we ever realised."
And that, to me, is the evidence
that that's when they
should have told the EPA.
But actually what they did
was even worse than that.
They went out
and they published a paper
in the journal 'Science',
which is the most prolific
and well-respected
scientific journal in existence.
They published a paper saying
that what Guy and Taves found
was not a man-made chemical
at all,
that it was this naturally
occurring compound,
which, of course,
they knew was a lie.
"3M concludes that both
PFOA and PFOS have,
"quote, 'the potential
for widespread distribution
"'in the environment,'
end quote,
"because they, quote,
'persist in the environment',
"thus 'forever chemicals',
"and that they are
highly mobile in soils,
"and that therefore waterways
"would be their ultimate
environmental sink."
MAN: This was the main beach
that was one of the main places
where the community caught fish
and sent it to the market.
That's the creek.
CARRIE: Right.
Oh, wow.
So, my understanding was
Mary's runs pretty much
from the... the airfield
all the way down to the beach
carrying the contamination,
is that right?
MAN: Yes.
How often would you come down
growing up?
I was here practically
every day.
- Yeah.
- Yeah.
We not only learnt to fish
and surf here, and swim,
we did a lot of
beachcombing here as well
when we was kids.
So that was one of
the activities
you do when you're living
on the coast.
WOMAN: We, obviously,
grew up right in Wreck Bay,
and the water
was our favourite place to go.
We love the ocean.
Especially at, um, Summercloud,
swimming there,
we'd swim in the creek.
There was foam in the creek
and we would play with it.
We didn't know what it was.
SKYE: So I'd just finished
school before I turned 18.
And then I started getting,
like, really bad headaches,
and it kind of just
was constant.
And then I started to lose
my balance a little bit.
My eyesight s...
Yeah, that started to get
a bit blurry.
I think the third time
in one week
I went to the doctor's again.
And then she said, "I'm just
gonna book you in for a scan
"on your head."
And that's when I met
my surgeons.
And they came in and he said,
"You've got a tumour
on your brain stem
"and we need to remove it."
So they said,
"It's a slow-growing tumour
"and there is a chance
of recurrence,
"but it's also benign."
JADE: We didn't know anyone
that had brain tumours,
so we'd never experienced,
like, even knowing someone
having brain surgery
or anything.
But I think it hit us harder
the second time
when she had surgery,
when we got told,
"Oh, the tumour's come back."
SKYE: It was daunting,
but I think I...always said
I would rather it happen to me
than anyone else,
'cause I knew
that I could do it.
And I'm like, "OK, just have
to push through."
And then...
...we found out about Jade,
which, that, I think,
broke my heart the most.
JADE: Well,
I was having migraines,
like, probably during the period
that she had her first tumour,
but then the symptoms got worse.
And then so me and Mum went in
and they were like,
"Oh, you have
a massive brain tumour."
Then they called Mum and Dad up
for a meeting,
and they were like,
"So, we found...
", we seen
the first tumour,
"but she actually has another
one on the other side as well."
They were trying to connect it
to Mum and Dad
to see if anything came up
in their genes
that would connect to
both of us,
but they found nothing.
Even when we've seen, like,
different doctors and stuff
that I've seen, they're like,
"Oh, where do you live?"
And I'm like, "Jervis Bay."
And they'll look at me again
and be like,
"Oh, do you know about PFAS?"
WOMAN: I was 26 years old
when I was formally diagnosed
with cervical cancer.
I caught it late,
so I was inoperable,
it had already went to
my lymph nodes.
They said, "You might not
be around by Christmas."
I started my treatment in 2015,
and by 2016, in February,
I was in remission.
So here I am, and...
Yeah, thank goodness
you're still here, darling.
ASHLEE: Dad's had
a triple bypass.
- You know...
- We've all had triple bypasses.
- ASHLEE: All the... Yeah.
- My brothers.
All the brothers,
all heart problems.
Every one of youse
have had a bypass...
...that have lived in Wreck Bay.
So that's, like, 10.
10 of them.
My brother Rob,
he's lived down here,
grown up down here -
heart problems.
My brother Baldy,
he died of a heart attack.
And then my other brother,
who's the same age as Rob,
lives in La Perouse -
no heart problems.
No health problems.
No health problems at all.
It can't be a coincidence.
CARRIE: So how old were you
when you first started
getting sick?
I had this lump here for years.
- Mm.
- And I never took notice of it.
And I found out that I was sick
with breast cancer.
CARRIE: There have been
studied overseas
in places like Taiwan
and Greenland
that have linked PFAS exposure
to elevated rates
of breast cancer.
And what experts have told me
is that in a community
the size of Wreck Bay
you'd expect to be seeing
about one breast cancer case
every five years,
or three in 15 years.
So it's been surprising
to have been given the names
of 10 women in that village
with breast cancer.
Peggy, she was my granddaughter.
She was a strong woman.
She was gonna be the next
matriarch of the family.
They used to think
she was Naomi Campbell
when she'd walk around
the streets
and people would turn
their heads every time.
Peg was beautiful too.
Beautiful spirit.
I've never, ever
heard her complain.
'Cause she always wanted to be
strong for everyone, you know?
I have my moments.
She calls out to me at times,
and I'm here by myself
and I'll hear this, "Nan!"
if I'm a bit weepy, you know?
She snaps me out of it. (LAUGHS)
Lets me know she's alright.
We know we'll meet up again
one day.
Did she wonder, sort of,
her illnesses,
about the PFAS and...
Yeah, well, PFAS
could have played a part in... Peggy's life.
Peggy, since she was a kid,
loved oysters,
so she'd been eating oysters
from this area
for a long time.
So every little spot
around here,
Peggy knew where oysters were.
And oysters are a...
what you call a filter feeder,
so they feed out
of all the food nutrients
in the water.
And she loved the fish.
we do know, for sure,
human studies,
not just animal studies,
that PFOS is renowned
for raising cholesterol.
If it's not picked up, we can
expect more arterial disease,
more kidney disease,
strokes, heart attacks.
The other thing that PFOS
is famous for
is its ability
to immunosuppress,
to reduce people's immunity.
So immunosuppression
in the '70s, '80s and '90s
could easily be causing cancers
in the 2000s and the teens
and the '20s.
So there's theoretical reasons
why there would be a link
between this contamination
...and what I believe to be
a cancer cluster.
NED: There isn't an ailment
that they haven't tied to this.
I mean, childhood development,
immune system response,
thyroid disease.
And this was all similar
to what they saw
back in the '70s
with those animal studies.
They saw these same effects
in animals in the '70s
this was, um...
that we're seeing now in people.
"The shocking news
that a proprietary chemical
"made exclusively by 3M
is toxic and present
"in the blood
of the general population
"attracts the attention of 3M's
highest-ranking executives,
"including CEO
and chairman of the board
"Mr Lewis Lehr.
"A May 26, 1978 memo confirms
"arrangements for a meeting
at 9:30am, July 12
"in Mr Lehr's conference room.
"The subject -
fluorochemicals in blood."
Well, of course
he wants to know,
because his product is poisoning
the general public
and the monkeys had died,
so I'm sure he wants to do
the right thing.
NED: So they knew they had
an obligation to report.
So then the next question is,
"Are we required to report?
"Does this rise to the level
that we're supposed to report?"
"3M consulted
two outside scientists,
"Dr Jerry R. Mitchell
and Dr Harold C. Hodge."
GARY: They referred to him
in one of their internal
documents as, quote,
"Dr Harold C. Hodge,
"a world-renowned expert
"in fluorine and fluoride
So he's not a nobody.
GARY: Good morning, Mr Gerber.
How are you?
Good morning.
I'm well, thank you.
Um, have you ever had
your deposition taken before?
No, I have not.
Probably what's most important
about Mr Gerber's deposition
is that he wasn't there
as Mr Gerber.
He was there as what's called
a corporate representative.
So, in law, you can say,
"Hey, dear company X,
"I want to know
what the company knows
"about X, Y and Z."
And the company
is then obligated
to get someone prepared
and knowledgeable on a topic
and then let you interview them.
And that's who they put up.
They put up Mr Gerber.
"It should be determined
"if FC-807 or its metabolites
"are present in man."
Does that indicate to you
that, at this point in time,
3M did not disclose to Dr Hodge
that they in fact
had information
indicating that PFOS
was "present in man"?
I...I guess I can't speak
to the full scope
of what 3M disclosed
to Dr Hodge.
But, yeah, I...I think that
that's a reasonable reading
of that sentence.
GARY: And let's read
this last sentence.
Dr Hodge wanted the people
who attended this meeting
to know that, "If the levels
are high and widespread
"and the half-life is long,
"we could have
a serious problem."
If we could just, um,
put the draft meeting minutes
next to the final
meeting minutes.
So Dr Hodge
wanted the company to know
and wanted the official
meeting minutes to reflect
that if this chemical's
in everyone's blood,
and if the half-life is long,
you have a "serious problem".
And that was removed from
the official meeting minutes,
wasn't it, sir?
I...I don't see
that final statement
in... in the second copy
of the meeting minutes.
Nobody would be
that unscrupulous
to literally delete something.
It's like...
it's like Richard Nixon
and the, uh...
you know, the missing minutes
from the tape.
"The day after the meeting
with Dr Hodge,
"the same nine 3M employees
travel on a 3M company plane
"to Houston, Texas,
"to meet with
another external expert,
"this time,
Dr Jerry R. Mitchell."
GARY: One of the explicit things
that must always be reported
is cancer, fair?
Yeah, there's...
there's a... a strong bias
towards reporting
in those cases.
Got it.
Do me a favour -
turn to page three.
The third comment he provides to
these individuals at 3M.
(JON READS) "Some of
the symptoms in animals
"from these 90-day studies
"are similar to those observed
with carcinogens."
GARY: Now look at the final,
and I want you to tell me
if that has been removed
from the final meeting minutes.
JON: I do see at the bottom
of page two
and that top of page three
there are numbers 1 and 2,
there's not a number 3.
"The statement by Dr Mitchell
"is removed from the final
draft of the meeting minutes."
This world-renowned expert,
his conclusion
was completely deleted
from the final draft.
It's really like, "Holy shit!"
kind of.
It was our "Holy shit!" moment.
- (LAUGHS) Yeah.
- Like, "People do this?!"
Arguably the most important
sentence of the entire thing.
The CEO knew. You know,
that's good enough for me.
This wasn't some obscure
nerd in a corner.
This was the head of the company
was aware of this information.
Total and complete criminal...
GARY: Good morning, Mr Bacon.
How are you this morning?
Not bad, and you?
I'm pretty good.
I'm here to take
your deposition.
My name's Gary Douglas
from the law firm
Douglas and London.
So, and if I understand
you worked for 3M
from 1968 to 2008,
is that correct?
Dr Griffith shared with you
that Taves and Guy
had found PFOS...
...had been found in the blood
of non-occupationally exposed
persons in the community.
He shared that with you
at this coffee meeting
around the water cooler.
That's how you first
heard about it, right?
That's the way I remember it, right.
We're sort of learning this
in real time
as we're taking his deposition
because we had
no internal documents
reflecting these
water cooler talks,
and I was thinking to myself,
"Should I ask him when?"
Do you remember when you had
this discussion "over coffee"?
Let's put it that way.
I was literally thinking,
"Well, it had to have been
much later on."
And he leans forward
into the camera and says...
Frank Griffith died
in about 1980-something.
I would assume
it was before then.
It was kind of shocking
in that how he was so candid
about it,
and his guard was down,
you know?
And I'm sure the lawyers
who were not on camera
were probably going like,
"Oh, my God,
what did he just say?"
'Cause the company line
has always been
they did not know until 1998.
I think I put my microphone...
- ...on mute.
- Mute.
And I looked at Rebecca.
I said, "Did I just hear that?"
Like, "Are you kidding?"
They were talking about this
so casually
around the water cooler,
over coffee, for decades.
And I think part of the reason
it was so shocking
is that deposition,
I think, came after
a number of other depositions
where we had heard them
basically saying that
that information, they
learned that right in 1998,
maybe late 1997.
So we were totally expecting
him to take the company line,
indicate the same time line,
and so when he said that,
I think it really was
kind of like,
"Did I hear that right?"
GARY: True or false?
By 1980, 3M was in possession
of information
that PFOS
was a bioaccumulative compound
that was widespread
in the blood
of the general population,
and that it killed
rhesus monkeys
that were exposed to it.
3M had all that information,
decided not to disclose it
at that time in 1980, correct?
Yes, I...I've reviewed documents
that, uh, you know, after those
studies were conducted,
uh, that information
was reviewed
against EPA's
reporting criteria,
and, uh, the company
made the determination
that the information was not
substantial risk information
under TSCA 8(e).
NED: 3M knew that PFOS
was persistent,
bioaccumulative and toxic.
3M knew that it was coming
from their products.
They knew that they were
the only company
that made these chemicals.
They knew they had an obligation
under federal law
to report such information,
and yet they told nobody
They violated federal law.
While this is taking place,
they are increasing production
of PFOS,
or POSF, which is the compound
that converts to PFOS
in the environment
and in human blood.
ROB: In the total grand history
of 3M's production of PFOS,
something like 90% of it
was produced after they learned
it was in everyone's blood,
after they learned it was toxic,
after they learned it was...
it killed these monkeys.
There were companies and people
that knew this was happening,
that knew the nature
and extent of this threat,
but did it anyway,
profited enormously for decades.
And in the meantime,
the entire world
has been exposed.
Just to the right here,
you'll see
this is the signs that the
Department of Defence put up.
(READS) "Mary Creek is currently
being tested for PFAS.
"As a precaution, Mary Creek
is closed to human use."
Well, this is one of
our sacred sites.
This is of great importance.
As a kid,
oh, we used to come up here
nearly every weekend,
swimming in the...
under the falls
and bathing in the ponds.
It's devastating.
It's heart-wrenching.
MAN: Tsss!
WOMAN: We sing that song
'cause that keeps us
culturally connected
to the land and to the water,
to the animals, to the sounds.
And that's how we call out
to our old people,
to our ancestors.
MAN: Our fish
have been poisoned.
Our land's been poisoned
and sick.
WOMAN: If she's sick,
we're sick.
If she's sad, we're sad.
If she's hurting, we're hurting.
This one here,
this is a native sarsaparilla.
And for us here in this area,
this is probably
the most important medicine
that we have here.
All the stuff that's coming
through the ground here... directly connected to all
these special plants for us.
This medicine, the knowledge,
this is the sort of stuff
that's irreplaceable.
What do we do?
When I first found out
that it was contaminated,
like, I felt betrayed.
Especially when I found out
where it came from, you know?
It had come from
the Defence Force,
who are here to serve
and protect our people.
MAN: Good afternoon,
ladies and gentlemen.
I'm the Deputy Secretary
in the Department of Defence.
We've had doctors
travel from Darwin,
Alice Springs and that,
who work for
the Aboriginal health.
They've come here to Wreck Bay.
They've never seen
so much sickness
in one little tiny little place.
Youse haven't been consistent
from the start.
And youse expect our community
to believe your stories
that you come...
You come here with your
PowerPoint presentations
every time
you come and talk to us.
To be honest with you, I'm done
with this... this seminar
'cause we keep getting crap.
- Come on, I'm going.
- Just wait.
I'm out of here. I've got better
things to do than listen to you.
WOMAN: Do you know what
a sacred site is?
You're trained
to fill our heads with shit.
Each time the Department
of Defence come down,
they just kept going over
the same old thing,
same old thing all the time.
Just seemed like
they were trying to
brush something
under the carpet.
I just had a sense of feeling
that they were up to something.
And I just got sick of it.
FEMALE REPORTER: There are now
thousands of families
in communities
around the country
affected by an unfolding scandal
over chemical contamination
from Defence Force bases.
Nationwide, 28 Defence sites
are caught up in the crisis.
The Australian Government,
the Federal Government,
they knew they had
a big problem
by 2000-2002,
no question about it.
Our government knows
that our children are being
exposed to chemicals
and ongoing poisoning
and they're doing nothing.
MARIANN: There was
this huge period of time
when people could have
made decisions
that protected them
and their children,
but that didn't happen
because government
left them ignorant.
Williamtown residents
were told that PFAS chemicals
from firefighting foam
had leached into groundwater
and onto their properties,
raising health fears
and rendering their homes
We've had to sue
our own government
to get that justice
that we deserve.
The Defence Department
has already settled
claims by residents
from Williamtown in NSW,
Oakey in Queensland
and Katherine
in the Northern Territory,
paying millions in compensation.
JAMES: I hear
all this other stuff
about these class actions
going on around Australia.
Why aren't we
forming our class action?
What's going on with
our class action, then?
WOMAN: We were up until late
looking up on the internet,
and then that's when we found
Shine Lawyers.
Hey, Josh, pretty good.
That's great news.
That's what we want.
Got a lot of people
down this way
that are wanting some justice.
In a David and Goliath battle,
the Wreck Bay community has
teamed up with Shine Lawyers
to take class action against
the Commonwealth of Australia.
The traditional owners
have just lodged a class action
for loss of culture due to
the contamination of their land.
JOSH: In our current
Western justice system,
we're trying to figure out
the loss of culture.
What is that worth?
Um, and that is something
which is just unprecedented
in our current court system
to try to figure out
a way to do that.
The Commonwealth
are gonna make us prove that
there is culture there,
that they actually have culture.
Which seems ridiculous that
we have to show that, but we do.
Then we have to show how that
culture's actually been lost,
how they can't pass it down
for future generations,
because that's our case.
Legally, it is
a very challenging case.
There's no two ways about it.
It's very difficult. It's
unprecedented in so many ways.
- JAMES: Hey, buddy. How are ya?
- James. Good.
- Good to see you, mate.
- Yeah, likewise.
Come inside. I'll introduce you
to Mum and Dad.
JOSH: Excellent.
Do you, um... did you grow up
eating bush foods and...
...and going to the bush
for bush medicine?
- Yes, we did.
- Yeah.
Like, if we had boils and that,
we used the ribgrass
for the boils
and inkweed for our skin
and bathed in the inkweed.
How does it make you feel
when part of your culture now,
it can't be passed on
in some ways?
In many ways, it can't.
We've lost a lot.
WOMAN: The effect of
the contamination on them,
it's been, um, really sad
to hear story after story
of people that have lived
in this area for generations.
They're heartbroken.
JOSH: Quite often
in First Nations matters,
and Wreck Bay is no exception,
you have these preservation
of evidence hearings
before trial
because trial could be
two, three years away.
And, you know, sad to say,
but there'll be many people
in Wreck Bay
that won't make
two to three years.
JOSH: Vida's an elder
in the community
and her family have
been there forever,
and Vida is very unwell.
She's desperate to tell
her story to the Commonwealth.
- Hello.
- VIDA: Hello.
This is William.
- Pleasure to meet you, William.
- JOSH: The barrister.
WILLIAM: Lovely to meet you.
I'm the senior barrister
on the case,
so I'm gonna be the one that's
sitting in the court tomorrow.
Tell me what this area is.
VIDA: That's the creek
at Summercloud just down here.
We used to swim there
from daylight till dark.
All that foam
that used to come down,
we didn't understand
what it was all about, did we?
We used to think
it was wonderful, you know,
jumping up and down
splashing the water and...
- UNCLE PAUL: Making foam.
- ...all this foam.
It's gonna be like
a proper court hearing
as they have it in our system.
The judge will be wearing robes.
- He's insisted upon that.
- Yeah.
- So I'll be wearing robes too.
- UNCLE PAUL: Yeah, yeah.
As will my junior, um...
- And I have to wear robes too?
You'd probably look better
in them than I do.
I didn't know it was gonna
turn out like this, you know,
for me to be chosen to get up
and speak in a courtroom
in front of
the High Court judge.
I don't want to give that
impression of being a radical.
I just want to be me, you know?
Get up!
Being the clown.
Oh, thank you.
It's what I need -
a bit of a kick.
This ochre I'm putting on me,
the men's ochre, is red ochre.
And what it does... gives me permission
to act on behalf
of all our clan,
my clan that come
from this country here.
I'm gonna put some ochre on Mum.
This ochre comes from country.
It connects us
to our old people.
WOMAN: I am proud of Mum.
Mum had said yesterday
that she's tired,
but she's happy
that she's getting to share
her side of the story
and, you know, a lot of people
have not made it this far.
MAN: I want to make sure
I've got your whole story.
This is your opportunity to tell
your story about everything
related to what you say
you suffered
through this contamination.
REBECCA: We're still two months
out for the trial to begin
and it's gonna be a long trial.
And right now, I think
we're still far enough out
that I think we're just all
sort of trying to remain calm
and not, you know, get too...
too overly stressed too soon
'cause it's a long
road ahead, right?
GARY: There's always
a lot of pressure,
but, you know, that's the job.
They didn't enlist me.
I volunteered.
So, yeah, there's
definitely pressure.
GARY: I can't think
of an environmental case
that is as pervasive as this one
and as urgent
for our own health and safety.
And this is where we can
level the playing field
between the average Joe
and giant corporations.
Like, in this case,
we're talking about 3M.
They have tremendous resources.
And this is a place,
a courtroom,
where we can level
the playing field.
They pled their ignorance.
They didn't reveal it.
But within the confines
in the... of private offices,
they spoke about it casually.
And I guess that was
the mentality back then,
that if you can get away
with it, you get away with it,
until, um, the 1990s.
The person at 3M
who was in charge
of monitoring worker blood -
because they were
worried about their workers
who would work with it,
those folks had higher
levels of it in their blood
because they were
working with it -
and he was sort of overwhelmed
with his job.
His name is Dale Bacon
and he'd been with the company
for about 40 years.
This is where it gets
Keystone Kop-ish.
He went and hired a company, um,
that was known
not for measuring contaminants
or compounds in human blood,
but for measuring, um,
compounds in racehorses.
NED: We always colloquially
called him 'Horse Track Jack'.
He's famous for
catching doping horses,
you know, like,
horses that are being fed
medicines they're
not supposed to
to make them run faster
in horse races.
It would be funny
if it wasn't so serious.
NED: So Dr Henion was helping 3M
in its program of testing its
workers for PFOS in their blood.
GARY: What he didn't contemplate
was that Dr Henion
would do good work.
And what you do
when you are gonna test
the levels of PFOS
in the worker blood
is look for what we call blanks
to compare it to.
You got to find
blood from people
who are not likely to have
been exposed, non-workers.
And he, of course,
is startled to find
that there's PFOS in every one
of the samples that he took.
He didn't just sit
right on his report.
He picked up the phone.
And Dr Bacon talked about
this in his deposition -
he received the phone call
from Dr Henion
because it was urgent.
"Hey, buddy, I'm finding
"your company's chemical
in everybody's blood."
GARY: He calls
with startling news
because he was finding
quantifiable levels of PFOS
not just in the worker blood
that you sent for analysis,
but in blood of non-3M-workers
he obtained on his own
from Red Cross-pooled blood,
the blood bank
at the Red Cross, correct?
That's, uh... I believe so. Yes.
NED: Some of
the lawyers within 3M,
they go to their
head toxicologist,
this guy Dr John Butenhoff,
and they say, "OK, well, how
much is in everyone's blood?"
And he pulled up the data
and he said, "There's about
30 parts per billion.
"That's the average amount
in Americans' blood."
And they go,
"OK, what's the safe amount?"
He goes, "Well, hang on.
Let me do some calculations,"
And he used data
that they had from the '70s,
those monkey studies,
and calculated that a safe
level, in his expert opinion,
was about 1 part per billion,
meaning the average American
had 30 times - 3,000% -
more PFOS in their blood
than what their head
toxicologist said was safe.
GARY: There was another
document that we found,
which was
a draft manuscript, 1998.
There was a note, a curious
note, that we found on it.
It's obviously
a Post-it that says,
"John, now that the -
quote - lid is off,
"Kris would like
to get this paper out.
"Any problem?"
We never understood that.
"The lid is off?
The lid is off what?"
And I remember
I was riding in my car
and I got a call from Rob Bilott
and he said, "Gary...
"..don't forget
to use the document
"about 'the lid is off',"
and I said, "Rob,
what are you talking about?"
And he said, "You know,
the one with the Post-it
"that says 'Now that the lid
is off, it's OK to publish',"
and that... it hit me.
"I get it now!
"That's what... that's where
that piece of the puzzle fits."
It's just a consciousness
of what they were doing.
Mm-hm, yeah.
It wasn't, "Oh, my God!
"I can't believe that our
product is in everyone's blood!
"What should we do?"
"Now that the lid is off,"
suggests, you know, a cover-up.
"Gee, the lid is off.
"I guess we gotta
come clean now."
And that's when they decided
to finally tell the EPA
what they've known
for 23 years -
that it was in everyone's blood.
It was in May of 1998
they told the EPA,
and promptly after that,
the EPA said, "OK, well,
you're out of the business.
"You can't make this anymore."
It took them four years to do it
and during that four years,
they increased production,
during that four years, they
sent letters to the customers
encouraging them to buy more
before they quit selling it.
It was like
a going-out-of-business sale.
It wasn't like,
"Oh, no, this is so bad."
WOMAN: Do you solemnly swear the
testimony you're about to give
to be the truth, the full truth
and nothing but the truth?
Yes, I do.
NED: That deposition
was the very first deposition
we took in the case
and we were so startled
by how well that deposition went
and how honest he was
and how forthright he was
and I think it was because
it was over Zoom.
It was because
he didn't have his lawyers
there with him, you know,
at the conference table.
He was in his home.
I think he was in his kitchen,
at his home,
and was just being frank and
honest with us and it was a...
You know... you know, the results
speak for themselves.
NED: And in each
and every one of these media
all around the world,
in Dr Butenhoff's opinion,
the source of PFOS
is more likely
than not 3M, correct?
Thank you for the logo.
Uh, yes, I mean, I...
Other than the fact that there
might be some manufacturing,
I think that more likely
than not the source is 3M, yes.
He basically acknowledged
that if you find a molecule of
PFOS anywhere on planet Earth,
3M made it.
Now, we've known that.
We know we can prove it.
But just to have a head
scientist within the company
just admit it in black-and-white
and even use the legal buzzwords
"more likely than not",
that's the standard of proof
we have here in the States.
CARRIE: So, Wreck Bay,
it's an Aboriginal community
of about 400 people
and it's sort of nestled
within this national park
at Jervis Bay.
There's sort of as I see it...
And, you know, you guys
might think differently,
but there's sort of three
main arcs to the story.
So there's this issue
of cultural loss
and then health seems to be
a really big issue down there
and then there's
sort of these issues
of how much did Defence know,
should things
have been done differently?
It's the incidence of health
impacts you're talking about
above the standard norms
you'd be expecting to see
in a community of this size
of those diseases?
I managed to find
one data source
that looks at rates
of premature death.
Looking at Wreck Bay
it had one of the highest rates
of years of life
lost prematurely
in the whole of Australia
and in some years,
it had the highest rate.
Who is trying to stop you
telling this story?
I can't imagine that
the Department of Defence
will want me to tell this story.
I've heard sort of anecdotally
they weren't very happy
that I was moving on
to start looking at Wreck Bay.
- Too bad.
- CARRIE: Mmm.
Thank you.
We've come to the offices
of the National Archives
of Australia
and it basically
is this giant repository
of every government document
that was created prior to 2002.
The Australian Government
got the letter from 3M in 2000
to say that, "We're going
to stop making this product,"
but that doesn't mean that
was the first they ever knew
about the firefighting foam
being hazardous
or being dangerous.
There's thousands of pages
that are all irrelevant
to what we're doing,
so it's quite difficult,
but I just know that
if you check everything,
you can potentially
find that bit of gold
or that smoking gun
that you've been looking for
that can change the whole game.
So I'm in the last
bundle of documents.
I've spent three days here
and, sure enough, in the last
page of the last bundle
is an extraordinary document.
So this document
is from November 1981.
(READS) "Currently,
liquid waste containing AFFF
"from the firefighting
training exercises
"are allowed to discharge
"over the surface
of the adjacent land.
"The wastes have penetrated
a considerable distance
"and have almost reached
"the Aboriginal settlement
at Mary Bay.
"For environmental reasons,
"this situation is unacceptable
and should be discontinued."
So they knew in 1981...
...that the foam was in the
water, escaping off the base
and they knew it was
environmentally unacceptable.
This has to be the most
explosive information
that I've found in terms
of the PFAS issue in Australia.
And you think of the extent of
the environmental devastation
that's been caused
over the whole country
that could have been avoided.
JAMES: They knew when they
hosed all that PFAS chemical
off down into the bush
that was gonna go
straight down into our...
...if not our village,
through all our sacred sites
and into the ocean where
we hunted and gathered every day
and that was gonna
destroy our community.
They knew that.
CARRIE: When I got these
documents, I went back over
and looked at what Defence
officials had actually said
when they were questioned
about these kind of issues.
And so the former
deputy secretary
of the Department of Defence
said in the early 2000s,
"There was no evidence
that this product
"was particularly dangerous
"either to the environment
or to human health.
"I don't think
we appreciated in 2004
"that this contaminant was
leaving Defence properties."
Those documents
directly contradict that.
You can only assume
he's been misinformed.
It would appear
from what you're telling me
that there has
been some level of concern
within the Australian Government
since the early 1980s
about the danger of this stuff
getting into a water supply
and nothing's
been done about it.
MAN: The traditional owners
of Wreck Bay land
have reached
a $22 million settlement
of their PFAS
contamination class action
against the Commonwealth
of Australia.
While this is a victory
for this First Nations group,
the Wreck Bay community
has to grapple with the impacts
of PFAS contamination
for years to come.
The monetary compensation
that comes out of
the Western legal system
isn't going to be enough
to compensate
for that breaking
of the connection to the land
and the cultural loss,
but we had to grapple with those
issues as best as we could.
I'm a bit concerned that,
to a lot of people,
that's not gonna
feel like enough
to compensate
for the destruction
that PFAS has caused
to their culture.
There will be an opportunity
for people to object,
so it will be very interesting
to see how that will play out
and what sort of reaction
the judge will have
to those objections.
JAMES: We're a united community
so we're gonna
keep on fighting this.
We're gonna come together
and we're gonna show
this Department of Defence,
this entity that's so powerful,
that we're powerful too.
LEE: I have read the objections,
but if anyone
does wish to speak,
then they're of course
free to do so.
determined to expose
and put a stop to
the callous government's
past and present use of poison
sprayed in the form
of the grim reaper PFAS.
We can't take our children
and our grandchildren
and our great-grandchildren
to parts of the land
that have been affected.
ASHLEE: We have lost an integral
part of our identity,
our sense of belonging,
our connection to our country,
the waterways,
the lands, the skies
and the people who walked
this land before us.
MAN: A thousand years from now,
our children's
children's children
are gonna know on 19 June, 2023,
that a small contingency
of our community
have stood tall against
the Department of Defence
to try and ensure their futures.
LEE: This is a very
catastrophic thing
that's happened
and the question here for me
is are you going
to get more money
running this case
to a conclusion
or is a better outcome
taking the money
that's on offer now
which has been negotiated
and which the lawyers think
is fair and reasonable?
So, unfortunately, the judge
agreed with the settlement offer
today of 22 million
and siding with
the Commonwealth,
that that's a fair and just
- So he says.
- So he says.
A settlement could
be reached this month
in a court case
involving a corporate giant
in the City of Stuart.
A lawsuit claims
that, for decades,
a toxic forever chemical
tied to health issues,
including cancer,
was pouring into the city's
groundwater and drinking water.
And now the city is
the face of a national fight
to have the manufacturer
pay for the clean-up
that hundreds of communities
have to tackle.
GARY: And if we can prove
the City of Stuart
is entitled to be compensated,
then what does that say
about what New York City
is entitled to
or cities like Miami
who happens to be
very heavily contaminated?
So that's what
this first case is about.
For me, it's sort of, I guess,
the pinnacle of my career.
(LAUGHS) I'm getting
a little too old for this,
but I can't see anything
that's more important
than seeing this through
and seeing that justice is done
and the parties responsible
for contaminating our planet
are held responsible.
REBECCA: Our anticipation
is that we will be
picking a jury
starting this morning
and be here for
at least five weeks.
GARY: We have been in the final
laps of a very long marathon.
MAN: OK, great. Here we go.
GARY: And we were literally at
the proverbial courthouse steps
when we were told that there
was something in the works.
GARY: I guess we all thought
we'd be in the middle
of jury selection right now
and I know everybody
has that bittersweet feeling.
We've all been working so hard
and, uh, we were ready.
You know, this is what
this case is all about
and, you know, this was one of
the demonstratives
who we were gonna use.
I was gonna say to our jurors
that they are looking at...
an image,
a model of a molecule,
a speck of matter
that neither God nor nature
brought into this world
and this molecule was man-made
and man-made by one company
and one company alone,
the 3M company.
And I know
it's frustrating for everybody
that we're unable
to tell that story.
I know that you're all
conscientious lawyers,
environmental lawyers
and I know that each
and every one of you here today
worked hard to bring that story
and I want to thank you all
for your hard work.
The reason that we're all
in this room here today
and the reason that 3M ran
from the court is because of us.
They weren't afraid of the EPA.
They weren't afraid of lying
to regulators around the world
or lying to the military.
They were willing to do anything
to protect their pocketbook
and the fact is
is that
this is what made them
worried about that.
It was a team effort
and I couldn't be prouder to be
part of it, so thank you all.
REBECCA: There's a bit of a
shock value going on right now.
We've been obviously working
for years to put it together,
so it was sort of the moment
of getting that opportunity.
It was gonna be the big...
sort of the big day.
Even though someone
can be given monetary value
to help address whatever problem
they're claiming or alleging,
it doesn't totally make you feel
like justice was done
all the time
if you don't get the actual...
...get to put the actual conduct
on trial.
GARY: They got away with it.
We didn't get to tell the story.
I almost feel, like, dirty.
It's like hush money.
But I have an obligation
to our clients.
I think their decision to settle
it has a lot to do with the fact
that they really were afraid
of even an opening statement
and their dirty laundry was
about to be aired in a big way.
We know 3M will,
to their last breath,
take the position
that PFAS is harmless
at the levels found in blood
and in the environment.
But even still,
people have a right
to know it's in them.
ROB: Right now
we're dealing with,
really, global
contamination problems.
These PFAS chemicals
have been used
in such an incredible array
of products
over the last 70 to 80 years.
waterproof clothing,
carpeting, fast-food wrappers
and packaging, cosmetics,
things that are waterproof,
things that are greaseproof,
things that are non-stick.
These chemicals have been used
in so many different products,
you're really dealing
with global contamination
on an unprecedented scale.
MARK: It's in the water.
It's in the air.
It's in the food.
It's everywhere.
There's nothing you can do
without coming
into contact with it.
It's... it's intense, man.
It's huge.
My name is Amara Strande
I'm 20 years old.
And at the age of 15,
I was diagnosed
with stage IV fibrolamellar
hepatocellular carcinoma.
Growing up,
I lived in the 3M plume
and attended
Tartan Senior High School
where I met many classmates
that were also
directly affected by cancer
as a result of what
we now understand
these chemicals to be - PFAS.
CARRIE: I never realised
that meeting with her
would have this ripple effect.
She went to the lawmakers
in Minnesota
and she tried to convince them
to ban PFAS
and it worked.
Corporations must stop
the production of these toxins
and be held accountable
and pay for the damage
they've done.
We need stricter regulations
on the use of PFAS chemicals
and more research to be done
on the long-term effects
of exposure.
We also need more education
for the public...
MAN: This spring, she was
asked to speak truth to power
by testifying before
legislative committees
about her experience
of having cancer
to give reasons why
the use of forever chemicals
should be banned
or greatly reduced in products.
We have been told
that her testimonies
were key in getting
the legislation passed.
CARRIE: It's called Amara's Law,
and Minnesota has become
the first place in the world
to enact laws to ban PFAS.
And that's not just banning,
like, one or two kinds of PFAS.
They're trying to eliminate
PFAS altogether there.
It's really a harrowing thing
to write these stories
and I don't think it ever
leaves you when you see people
and you're sitting
and talking to them one day
and you see the fear and you see
the questions that they have
and then they're gone.
I hope people that read
the Wreck Bay stories,
that they can
connect to the love
that the Wreck Bay people have
for their land
and for their culture...
...because unless you can
feel that and understand,
you can't really understand
what they've lost
and you can't understand
the devastation
that these chemicals
have caused.
I hope it lands with the impact
that we feel like
the story deserves.
JAMES: When our
physical bodies die
and we go back into the mother,
all that water
that's inside of us
goes back to the mother as well
and we drink that water
and our ancestors
live inside of us.
But now that PFAS
has poisoned that water...
...they don't just poison us.
They poison our ancestors...
...and everything
that's connected to Ngadjung,
or to our water.
Man-made chemicals are
Poisoning the Earth
Chemists move molecules around
Like we move furniture
After we're dead and gone
It will be here
a million years
We'll all be dead and gone
We cried a billion tears
Those tears are flowing
Deep in the water
Flowing deep in the water
Flowing deep in the water
Flowing deep in the water
A devil with your suit and tie
I know your wicked little game
And we're rising up from
Deep in the water
Rising deep in the water
Sing it now,
brothers and sisters
Sons and daughters
The truth is lying
Deep in the water
The truth is rising up
The truth is rising up from
Deep in the water,
deep in the water
The truth is rising up
The truth is rising up from
Deep in the water...