For the film, Director Leana Hosea interviewed residents and experts in both Sanders and Flint, beginning on the Navajo Nation, where Janene Yazzie investigated the drinking water at her son’s school. With Geiger counter in hand, Yazzie explored nearby abandoned uranium mines, finding areas with radiation levels higher than those around Chernobyl. She suspects the water contamination responsible for elevated uranium levels at the school — and her own ovarian cancer — was caused by pollution from the Church Rock dam spill of 1979, which released uranium mine tailings into the Puerco River. It was the largest release of radioactive material in US history. Yazzie’s interest in water justice led her to the protests at Standing Rock, where she met Flint water activist Nayyirah Shariff. Flint’s water was contaminated when the city switched its water source from the Detroit water system to the Flint River. The more corrosive river water leached lead and other toxins from pipes throughout the city into residents’ drinking water. Scientists in both communities, such as environmental health expert Chris Shuey and mechanical engineer Laura Sullivan, offered expert opinions on the severity of the contamination. Upon visiting Flint, Yazzie discovered that the two tales of water contamination, though separated by hundreds of miles, told the same story of unaccountability, lies, and cover-ups. Both communities’ struggle for water justice is ongoing.
The WRRC Special Event discussion panel will be held on Zoom on October 20 from 4:00–5:00 PM Arizona time. It will feature insights from Film Director and BBC Multimedia Investigative Journalist Leana Hosea, as well as Janene Yazzie, co-founder and CEO of Sixth World Solutions and resident of Sanders, AZ; Chris Shuey, director of the Uranium Impact Assessment Program at Southwest Research and Information Center; Nayyirah Shariff, grassroots organizer and director of Flint Rising; and Laura Sullivan, professor of mechanical engineering at Kettering University and member of the Flint Water Interagency Committee. The panel discussion will include time for a Q&A. Registration for the event is now open. All registrants will receive a link to view the documentary free of charge. The asynchronous screening will be available from Sunday, October 16 through Saturday, October 22.