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Company Town Review

By David Kempler

Bad Company

Sometimes I can't help but wonder how the notion of wanting clean air and water became controversial and political. Of all the conflicts between the Right and the Left in America, this is easily the toughest for me to understand.

The argument supported by those on the Right that business must be allowed to do what it needs to do in order bring more money into everyone's pockets, even if it means poisoning a certain percentage of Americans, is beyond stupid to me, besides being inaccurate on every level.


Politics aside, Natalie Kottke-Masocco and Erica Sardarian's "Company Town" is the latest documentary in an endless chain that yet again points out the damage being done to the environment. This time around it's the Georgia Pacific paper mill and chemical plant in the tiny town of Crossett, Arkansas, where 5,507 people reside. Crossett is very much a company town because everyone there either works for Georgia Pacific, has worked for them, or is dependent on the business of these workers.

In 2005, the fabulously wealthy Koch brothers purchased Georgia Pacific and, according to the people of Crossett, the environmental problem only got worse after the purchase. The Koch brothers have often come under fire for similar allegations, so this is not jarring information.

The epicenter of the issue in Crossett is Penn Road, where 11 out of 15 households have lost at least one person to cancer, an exceedingly high incidence that's far above the national average. One of the street's residents is David Bouie, a Baptist minister and former Georgia Pacific employee. Bouie is the town's leading crusader against GP.

Behind his house is one of the streams where wastewater is constantly dumped and the stench from these streams can be overwhelming. When the community gets chemists to analyze the water, it is found that many toxins, including benzene, are present in enormous amounts.

As is often the case, the bulk of the affected population is poor and black. It's not a coincidence. When the EPA finally sends representatives to investigate, it's curious that all three are black. That's probably not a coincidence, either. What the community learns from the visit is that the EPA can't help them, despite their assurances that they will. The reps inform the citizens that their only power is to recommend solutions, but not to ensure that anything will be done.

By the end, the residents are dismissed as being wrong in their belief that they are being poisoned and the government reps are on their way back to their offices. It makes you want to bang your head into the wall. Imagine how it makes the citizens of Crossett feel. So, we are left with another doc that will upset us and change nothing. The rich will continue to get richer and the poor will continue to die.

What did you think?

Movie title Company Town
Release year 2016
MPAA Rating NR
Our rating
Summary Another documentary telling us that corporations are poisoning American citizens and going unpunished. All the right notes are hit, but we know that it won't make a bit of difference.
View all articles by David Kempler
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