Gazette-Mail editorial: 'Dark Waters' could hit chemical pocketbooks

A Wall Street analyst authored a report explaining that “Dark Waters,” a film that opened this week based on a long-term coverup of events surrounding a chemical plant in Parkersburg, will be damaging for the bottom line of companies like DuPont.

Is that supposed to make anyone, other than investors in such companies, feel bad?

DuPont’s manufacture of the chemical C-8, used in products like Teflon, at its Wood County plant contaminated drinking water in the region for years, and is believed to be responsible for multiple instances of cancer and weakened immune systems among residents. DuPont, and spin-off company Chemours, ended up settling thousands of legal claims regarding the contamination for $670 million.

The entire affair is a viable candidate for the Mount Rushmore of industry run amok in West Virginia, caring little for the people and communities that were affected for years because of corporate greed and negligence.

It’s unsettling how, in some ways, industry and corporate interests continue to place little value on human suffering at their hands, whether present or past. For instance, the Wall Street analyst told Bloomberg News there is no mention of Chemours in the film, so it’s possible audience outrage will focus only on DuPont, limiting the spread of bottom-line damage. The silver linings of bean counters are a marvel to behold.

West Virginians and others who were affected by the events depicted in “Dark Waters” can be forgiven if they shed few tears for a drop in stock value among chemical manufacturers.

West Virginians also probably remember that it took a lot for the truth to come out at all. If not for the dogged determination of attorney Rob Bilott, and the hard work of local reporters under heavy pressure from business interests telling them there was nothing there, the full extent of this tragic tale might not have seen the light of day.

Business interests can often wield a lot of power. The Parkersburg plant employed people. As did coal mines that exploded. As did companies that sent armed union breakers into coal camps. But the legacy always seems to be the same. The companies make their money and move on, leaving devastation among the people and communities they used.

The brighter the light “Dark Waters” shines on this, the better.

Funerals for Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Adkins, Dorsel - 11 a.m., Casto Funeral Home, Evans.

Anderson, William - 1 p.m., Foglesong-Casto Funeral Home, Mason.

Kalinoski, Peggy - 3 p.m., Goshen Baptist Church Cemetery, Kenna.

Pyles, Jack - 1 p.m., Wilcoxen Funeral Home, Point Pleasant.