Best Of 2020

Best Case for Getting Rid of Teflon Skillets: Dark Waters

The truth revealed in director Todd Haynes’ cinematic legal thriller Dark Waters is so harrowing you just might ditch your Teflon skillets for cast iron upon seeing it. Mark Ruffalo stars in this whistleblower film based on the true story of local lawyer Robert Bilott, who works at Cincinnati law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister. The story begins to unravel when Wilbur Tennant, a farmer from Parkersburg, West Virginia, shows up at the firm with claims that hundreds of his cows have died under strange circumstances. Bilott takes the case, and the film follows him as he chases chemical company DuPont’s trail for two decades. Bilott finds, among other things, that DuPont has released thousands of pounds of an unregulated substance called PFOA — also known as C8, which is used in the manufacturing of Teflon — into the Ohio River and “digestion ponds,” from which the toxin can leak into the ground. Through his work, Bilott discovers that not only is the drinking water of Parkersburg tainted, but the contamination also stretches to towns beyond. The film closes with a damming fact: 99.7 percent of Americans have C8 in their bloodstreams. Even more sickening? PFOAs remain federally unregulated. To this day, Bilott is still fighting for better regulations and representing those affected. Filmed partially in Cincy, Dark Waters tells an important story of environmental injustice and the evils of corporate greed. Bilott also published a book, Exposure, about his battle with DuPont.