Ronan Farrow Daily   |  April 21, 2014

We need to 'stop giving corporations a pass'

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich discusses a Supreme Court case on whether victims who drank contaminated water around the Marine Corps' Camp Lejeune in North Carolina can still sue the company responsible.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> brockovich will not be celebrating she'll be at the supreme court protesting on a little noticed case about whether victims who drank contaminated water around camp will he jun can still sue. a 24 year veteran of the marines moved to the camp not even knowing of the danger. his daughter jane knee died of a rare form of leukemia, the years old. president obama named a law after janeny and makes it more troubling that president obama 's justice department is arguing that 25 families exposed to that same contamination should not be able to bring their claims against the company that put the toxic chemicals in the water. because they didn't discover the tumors and bone cancer and skin canners because their bodies didn't start falling apart until two years after the time limit had run out under state law to bring this action. this brings us back to erin brockovich who will be out there fighting for those victims. thank you so much for being here.

>> thanks for having me.

>> the victims of this particular contamination as we mention were unaware of the toxins until it was too late to sue under state law . do you think there should be time limitations on these type of pollution cases?

>> well, no, it's actually very, very concerning to me this situation which is qwhy i'm going to head to washington, d.c. if you go back to the film erin brockovich it's like the community in hinckley california who lived on polluted land and 99.99% of the time don't know for the first ten or 11 or 12 years they are in fact being poisoned. and it isn't until 10, 11, 12 years passed that they find themselves with disease or children with cancer. and there should not be a pass for that polluter. they need to continue to be responsible for their pollution. 15, 20, 25 years down the road. and statute of repose would give them that pass. i don't think it's fair to any of us who live in an around super fund sites across america.

>> let's talk about the super fund sites, that is the legal issue. while the state has one limit, federal super fund legislation has another. the appeals court said that that legislation was intended to protect more than the current state laws do. presumably you agree with that.

>> i do. that is what makes this argument really so interesting because it's coming out of north carolina . you have the state statute of repose but also have camp le lejeune there. they serve two or three duties to only come home and unbeknownst to them their family and children are sick and dying and we have a government who is supposed to protect them that is not issued in a brief that basically siding with the company. it also appears they are trying to get out of their responsibility to our american soldier and i think that would be just horrible, horrible decision and something that we should not be doing to our returning vets, soldiers and their families and children.

>> one of those vets that faced this contamination said how many bullets do we have to take to see justice. right now the justice department is arguing against them. just briefly though, i want to look at the bigger picture you're fighting here. the environmental working group , you've worked with on occasion, published this map locating high levels of cancer caused by the chemical chromium 6, a big fight you fought this contamination around the country of this particular chemical. they took samples for 31 cities and found elevated rates, how big a problem is water contamination .

>> it's a very big problem and i'm familiar with the map and started one myself that people are reporting to which we have over 5,000 communities in the united states alone reporting illness and potential disease associated with contaminated water . this is not anything that is secluded to one portion of the united states . it is the entire nation. people reporting pollution problems, whether it be air, land, soil, vapor intrusion and most specifically water. and i'm stumped that we're having these arguments today. i'm stumped that we're not making this our priority. this should not be a political conversation. this applies to each and every individual american, our families and our children. it's very widespread and we need to have a call to action and we need to begin to find solutions to these problems and stop giving corporations a pass. you know, maybe you're not guilty but you're still responsible. we have to become more solution driven or we're really going to have a crisis in the future.

>> erin, there's the human cost but also the cost to wildlife from these contaminations?

>> absolutely. that's very true. every site i go into, across the board, one of the first telltale signs something is gone wrong is the wildlife or the absence of it is telling you something is wrong.

>> thank you erin brockovich and for the stand you're taking on this issue.

>> thanks for having me.

>> for our call to action as she mentioned it's time for a call. we're going to focus on that last point we discussed, the impact of environmental pollution on our wildlife, specifically after oil spills which are something we're going to be covering later this week. the public can't pick up oiled wildlife and there are regulations on what animals are counted, which is highlighted in this white house .gov petition that asks the government to count all documented oiled wildlife rather than animals physically retrieved after a spill. that could be a important bell weather for future problems to come. tweet your support and make sure to let us know if you've participated on facebook or by e-mail or