When did you begin filming this story?
We started covering the story in about 2005 and locked picture this spring.
In what ways did the community change over that time frame?
They found their voice. They wanted to be heard, found the roots to be heard, and were acknowledged by the EPA - even sitting behind Lisa Jackson at her confirmation hearing. They've been sharing their message with other communities that are suffering under the duress of toxic waste. They also had a lot of twists and turns in the legal road. They had to re-determine for themselves what justice looks like.
Is the area now safe to live in?
There is a continued risk, and there could be a permanent continued risk. The extent of that risk is still being determined. This story is not done.
When it became apparent how immense the damage was, did the community ever consider moving on?
A few individuals have, but many refuse. Their ancestors for multiple generations - two to three hundred years - have been living on that land. On top of that, they don't have any money. Their homes and properties have been rendered valueless by living on top of a Superfund site.
Is anyone in the community entirely healthy?
I've never seen anyone come through completely unscathed. The expert toxicologist working on the case said it was one of the sickest communities he'd ever looked at. Every person has something - from a skin rash to cancer, diabetes to teeth loss - caused by dioxins.
Why were the plaintiffs unable to prove there were toxic levels of dioxins in the area?
I'm not a scientist, but one of the issues might have been that the dioxins they were testing for in the attic were simply far too removed from when they were released by a large fire 25 years ago. The plaintiffs were still refining their science methods as the case was going down the funnel. If they had more time or resources, they could've done more focused levels of testing. It's very hard to prove evidence or scientific connection, and it's very costly.