Smoot Theatre screening C8 documentary this evening

PARKERSBURG — Two Parkersburg natives concerned about the health impacts of C8 contamination on Parkersburg High School alumni collaborated on getting a movie about the pollution to be shown 7 p.m. today at the Smoot Theatre.

“The Devil We Know” is about how C8, once used to make Teflon at the Washington Works, contaminated water supplies in the region.

Andrew Brownfield of Charlotte, N.C., and Ben Hawkins of Arlington, Va., formerly of Parkersburg, were friends with the late Dr. Michael Cox of Parkersburg, a member of the class of 1993 who died in 2017 from pancreatic cancer at the age of 42. The three were childhood friends from Jackson Junior High School and called themselves the Cold Lunch Misfits.

“One of the things he wondered was could it have been the C8 in the water that caused (the cancer),” Hawkins said.

After Cox died, Hawkins and Brownfield talked with other Parkersburg High School classmates with health issues, too.

“I began to wonder, too,” Hawkins said.

While Cox wondered about a connection to C8, Brownfield said, a panel of scientists studying health data from about 70,000 residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley determined a probable link with six diseases in humans, pancreatic cancer not being one of them.

Hawkins and Brownfield worked with representatives of the movie, the Environmental Working Group, and Executive Director Felice Jorgeson at the Smoot Theatre to bring “The Devil We Know” to Parkersburg. Marketing agents with “The Devil We Know” earlier this year said they were interested in a venue in Parkersburg.

The documentary will be shown at 7 p.m. today. Admission is free and ticket information is available online on the Smoot website or 304 422-PLAY.

People will need to get a ticket so the theater can track attendance and accordingly prepare for the panel discussion to follow, Jorgeson said.

“The Devil We Know” is a documentary by Stephanie Soechtig that premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival. It has been shown elsewhere around the country, including the Athens (Ohio) International Film Festival.

Members of the panel are:

* Sue Bailey, who worked in the Teflon division at the Washington Works during her pregnancy and was responsible for flushing the C8 through a drain to the Ohio River. Her son, Bucky, was born with severe facial deformities and had more than 30 surgeries in his childhood.

* Joe Kiger, a long-time member of the Mid-Ohio Valley community, was a lead plaintiff in the original class action lawsuit against DuPont.

* Ken Cook, president and co-founder of Environmental Working Group, a national organization.

* Robert Bilott, a partner with the law firm of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, who represented clients in the C8 class action suits.

* Dr. Paul Brooks, whose company Brookmar organized the epidemiological collection of health data of about 70,000 people in the Mid-Ohio Valley. The data was studied by a science panel that concluded there was a possible link between C8 and six diseases in humans.

* Roger Sheppard, Parkersburg native, who retired in 2017 from WTAP.


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