On Thurs. March 11th, the West Virginia State University chapter of the Student Environmental Action Coalition and People Concerned About M.I.C. will co-present a screening of the Appalshop documentary Chemical Valley. The film will be at 6PM at the Davis Fine Arts Theatre on the WVSU campus and will be followed by a question and answer session to discuss the film’s relevance to the present time. For more information, visit peopleconcernedaboutmic.com.
Chemical Valley documents the Kanawha Valley’s response to the “Bhopal Disaster,” otherwise known as the worst industrial disaster in history, which occurred on December 3, 1984 when the toxic gas methyl isocyanate (MIC) was released from the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, killing and permanently disabling thousands. This tragedy brought international attention to the predominantly African-American community of Institute, West Virginia, site of the only Union Carbide plant in the United States that manufactured MIC.
While 25 years later the Institute facility is owned by Bayer CropScience, it still produces and stores more than five times the amount of MIC that caused the Bhopal disaster. The plant still operates right next door to West Virginia State University, a historically black and land-grant university.
Chemical Valley begins with the Bhopal disaster and the immediate response in the Kanawha Valley, an area once dubbed by residents “the chemical capital of the world” because of the many plants operating there. The program then follows events in the valley over the next five years as lines are drawn and all sides heard in the debate between those who fear for their livelihood and those who fear for their lives. Chemical Valley explores issues of job blackmail, racism, and citizens’ right to know and to act as it documents one community’s struggle to make accountable an industry that has all too often forced communities to choose between safety and jobs.
Chemical Valley was produced by Appalshop, a nationally recognized media arts center based in Whitesburg, Kentucky, and directed by Mimi Pickering and Anne Lewis.
The event is free and open to the public, though donations will be accepted. The WVSU Student Environmental Action Coalition is accepting old batteries as part of their recycling awareness campaign. This screening is part of People Concerned About MIC’s education campaign.