As Detroit strives to revive itself, one of the daunting problems it must confront is the toxic legacy of unbridled industrial production. Toxic Detroit visualizes some of these problems through views of polluted rivers, ravaged landscapes and noxious air. In the film, a father and daughter fish on the River Rouge. Zug Island looms in the distance; a Native American burial ground for centuries and once a marsh-filled peninsula, the area in southwestern Detroit has long been a dumping ground and is now a depressed and dangerously toxic neighborhood.
Seen, too, is the Packard Plant, explored inside and out. Closed since 1957 and once running around the clock with 40,000 workers, it is the largest abandoned building in the U.S. and sits in a dangerously polluted neighborhood in eastern Detroit. Also seen is the Detroit Waste Incinerator, the largest solid waste incinerator in the U.S. Sold off years ago to the private sector when Detroit was faced with a severe budget deficit, the incinerator now burdens city residents as a major source of air pollution along with a $120 per ton bill (vs. the $57 per ton national average).
The optimism and determination of Detroiters themselves belie the surreal wastelands that surround them. Toxic Detroit briefly enters a nightmarish world of industry that’s not too big to fail.
Director: William Noland
Camera, sound design & editing: William Noland
Additional audio files: Luc Ferrari
Original format: DVCPro HD
Completion date: 2011
Running time: 10:00