The 2000 film “Erin Brockovich” seemed like a successful David versus Goliath story. A single mom of three took on PG&E for contaminating drinking water in Hinkley, California, and came out victorious, suing and winning $333 million from the giant utility company. But whatever became of the tiny town?
For the roughly 600 residents who received part of that payout, the ending wasn’t all happy. Residents who lived there in the ‘90s, such as Roberta Walker, say they suffer from residual health problems. And while they can’t disclose how much money they received from the lawsuit, they say it wasn’t enough to keep them afloat for long. Now, 21 years after the lawsuit, it seems the same public health hazard continues to affect the welfare of Hinkley residents.
From natural disasters to national tragedies, the media swarms around major stories, hurling those affected into the spotlight. But what happens after the cameras are gone and the country moves on to the next headline? The Aftermath revisits stories that once dominated the news, investigating where people are now and what has happened since, to tell the story after the story.
The Glassbreaker Films initiative at The Center for Investigative Reporting aims to support women in documentary filmmaking and investigative journalism. The project is generously funded by the Helen Gurley Brown Foundation.