American Scandal

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Every scandal begins with a lie. But the truth will come out. And then comes the fallout and the outrage.

Scandals have shaped America since its founding. From business and politics to sports and society, we look on aghast as corruption, deceit and ambition bring down heroes and celebrities, politicians and moguls. And when the dust finally settles, we’re left to wonder: how did this happen? Where did they trip up, and who is to blame? From the creators of American History Tellers, Business Wars and Tides of History comes American Scandal, where we take you deep into the heart of America’s dark side to look at what drives someone to break the rules and what happens when they’re caught. Hosted by Lindsay Graham.

DuPont Chemical Cover-Up | Dry Run Creek | 1

DuPont Chemical Cover-Up | Dry Run Creek | 1

Tue, 19 Jul 2022 07:01

While we used many sources in creating this season, key elements of the story were drawn from the book Exposure by Robert Bilott. We highly recommend it. You can buy the book here:

A devastating plague strikes a cattle farm in West Virginia. As he investigates the mystery, an attorney uncovers a secret that threatens a corporate empire.

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To listen to American scandal one week early and add free, join Wondry Plus in the Wondri app. Download the Wondri app in your Apple or Google Play mobile app store today. It's April 6, 1938. In a lab in deep water, New Jersey, Roy Plunkett lays out a series of glass beakers. He grabs a rubber hose and attaches it to a steel cylinder. And as he checks the readings on his equipment, he gets a brief flicker of excitement. The same feeling of thrill he gets every morning he walks into work. Plunkett is a chemist for DuPont, one of the largest chemical corporations in America. He's 27 years old and has only been with a company a couple of years. But with his neatly parted hair and white button down shirt, he likes to think he fits in, and that he's doing his part to advance the world's understanding of chemistry. Of course, the work isn't easy. Recently, Plunkett has been trying to create a new type of refrigerant that can be used in products like air conditioners. The refrigerant needs to be safe and non-toxic, and it also needs to be viable to produce on an industrial scale, allowing DuPont to keep its edge in the industry. But so far, Plunkett hasn't made any big discovery. And after months of experiments, he's running out of options. Still, he knows there's nothing he can do except plow ahead and try yet again. Plunkett looks up as Jack Reebok, his assistant, enters the lab. Hey Doc, what's on the agenda today? We try and TFE? That's right Jack, but I'm nervous. Tetch a floor of ethylene, it's not easy to get a hold of. Gosh, it's expensive. Oh, we've tried everything else. Oh no, but maybe we'll get lucky. I mean, we just gotta keep pushing forward. Progress, that's the name of the game at DuPont. Plunkett nods, and the two men begin a familiar routine. Reebok takes the hose, connected to the steel cylinder, filled with TFE gas. Plunkett then connects the other end to the reactor, a tank wherein the TFE will react with hydrochloric acid. All right Jack, you check your connection? Are we ready? All right, let's release the gas. Reebok begins twisting a metal knob on the cylinder. But for some reason, they don't hear the hissing sound of gas being released. Something wrong? This doesn't sound right. I don't know, Doc. Is the cylinder full? Maybe it's empty. No, no, no, I've cracked the gas myself. Check again. Maybe there's something wrong with the valve. Reebok turns the valve again and looks back up. No, no, it looks like it's doing fine. Well, I'm sure there's gas in the tank. Why isn't it coming out? No, I just have no idea what should we do. Well, let's have a look. Plunkett begins twisting a valve on the cylinder, getting ready to remove it. Hey, hey, if there's gas still in there, couldn't it cause an explosion? No, I don't think that's a risk. There's something else going on. I don't know what, but we have to take a look. Okay, fun. I'm going to step back. I don't want to lose an arm. Plunkett smiles. And as he pulls the valve off the cylinder, there's no explosion and no hiss. That's strange. With no idea what else to do. Plunkett begins shaking the cylinder upside down. And a few tiny white flecks of white powder start raining down on the lab bench. What in the world is that stuff? I do not know. Plunkett runs a finger through the mysterious white powder. It's odd. He's never seen anything like it. But now he's curious. What could have caused the powder to form? The only way to get an answer is to take a look inside the metal cylinder where the gas had been stored. So Plunkett grabs a hacksaw and starts cutting the cylinder in half. After several minutes of hard work, the metal cylinder splits open. And it reveals a stunning sight. There's more of the white powder, but it's stuck together in a solid form. Crystalen, it almost looks like a geode. Plunkett and his assistant exchange a look. This could be nothing, just a fluke. Or it could be a breakthrough. Either way, Plunkett has to find out. And so he and Reebok begin running a battery of tests. Over the next several hours, they discover that the white powder doesn't melt under extreme heat. It doesn't dissolve in water. It seems chemically inert. And curiously, absolutely nothing will stick to it. Water, oil, solvents, everything just slides off. This is new and exciting. Plunkett leaves the lab, steps out into the cool spring air outside. His mind is racing. This mysterious white powder doesn't appear to be a refrigerant. And that means Plunkett hasn't completed his original task. But maybe that doesn't matter. Because this substance is some kind of miracle. An unprecedented material that could revolutionize consumer products. And potentially make a fortune for DuPont. American scandal is sponsored by the new audiobook, Killing the Legends. The 12th audiobook and the multi-million-selling killing series from Bill O'Reilly and Martin DuGard. Elvis Presley, John Lennon and Muhammad Ali. Three icons known everywhere in every nation across every culture. They had everything. Fame, money, the admiration of millions. But their lives spun out of control at the hands of those they most trusted. Killing the Legends explores the lives, legacies and tragic deaths of these three legends. Each experienced a men's success. Then failures that forced them to change. Each faced a challenge of growing old and fields that privileged youth. And finally, each became isolated, cocooned by wealth but vulnerable to the demands of those in their innermost circles. Killing the Legends is available now, wherever audiobooks are sold, start listening. You've already earned some fun, so have it. It's like giving yourself permission to eat dessert first. With best fiends and exciting puzzle adventure game, you can have fiendish fun anywhere anytime. How often do you let yourself have some hard earned fun? Whatever your answer is, you deserve way more. Add some joy to your daily routine with best fiends. The puzzle adventure game you won't be able to put down. Brand new events and challenges pop up all year round. So you've always got a chance to earn exclusive in-game items, characters and rewards. You've earned your fun time, go to the App Store or Google Play to download best fiends for free. Plus, earn even more with $5 worth of in-game rewards when you reach level 5. And that's friends without the R. Best Fiends. From Monterrey, I'm Lindsey Graham. And this is American Scandal. By the mid-20th century, industrial chemicals were being used to produce a dising array of consumer goods. Products made with wood or steel were replaced with plastic. And Americans gained access to a bounty of inexpensive products made with synthetic materials, from the polyester used in sweaters to the artificial fragrances used in shampoos. These products are cheap and ubiquitous. And although they may have a low price tag, products made with synthetic materials often come with another cost. A hidden expense, denominated in ruined lives, illness and death. This is Episode 1. Dry Run Creek It's July 7, 1996 in the rural community of Washington, West Virginia. Earl Tennant walks beside a bubbling creek. The water snakes its way through banks of grass and pass weeds and wildflowers. And when Tennant reaches a fence post, he stops to catch his breath. Tennant is tall and broad shouldered. He's 54 years old and not in the best shape. But Tennant isn't worried about his own health. It's his cows he's concerned about. Tennant looks at it his herd of cattle, grazing it in a nearby field. He's got 200 cows on his land, a property that spans over 600 acres. It's a large operation. But Tennant knows every cow by name. He believes that's part of what it means to be a farmer, to be connected to the land and his livestock. And those values have been with Tennant his entire life. His family has been on this land for generations, and he can't imagine living or dying anywhere else. But as Tennant looks out at his property this morning, he's got a painful reminder that something has gone terribly wrong. That's why he's going to record some evidence. Proof that something is happening at his farm, and that someone needs to be held responsible. Tennant takes out his camcorder and hits record. As he gazes at his property, he begins describing the sights in front of him. OK, I'm at the edge of the creek now. It's known as dry run. As you can see, the water's dark and filthy, and that over there, a big pipe on the other side, that's where all the dirty water comes from. Now, I'm going to zoom in so you can see the sign. It says outfall. That's the DuPont Company logo right there next to it. That pipe spits off runoff, and that runoff comes from DuPont's landfill just over there. Tennant turns his camera toward a landfill off in the distance. 13 years ago, DuPont bought the land from Tennant's brother. The company started filling it with waste from a nearby chemical plant. That's when the problem started. See, DuPont says it's just trash from an office, but how would paper and scraps make water look like that? It's foaming, filthy. No one would ever want their livestock to drink water like that. Tennant turns pointing the camera at a group of cattle. Those are my cows. You can see they don't look good, but I'll get closer. Now, here's another very sad site. Tennant approaches a dead calf, lying in a patch of grass. It's covered in flies. Foamy blood has dried around its nose and mouth. It's teeth are black. Gazing at the calf, Tennant swallows hard. This calf died in pain. My husband kicking right here right next to its mother. Nothing mother could do about it. I am... I'm sorry. I've lost about 100 calves and 50 full-grown cattle just these last two years. Each and every one of them is. It's like losing a family member. It's not the money I'm worried about. It just hurts your heart to see. Tennant wipes his nose as he gazes at the dead calf. I'll cut her open, see what's going on. I've already done it a dozen times. You'll find tumors, organs with disease. There's always a strange smell. But there's no mystery what's killing them. It's in that filthy water coming from that landfill. I know it. And now it's time everyone else knows it too. Tennant's hand starts to shake as he fills with rage. He's made countless calls to the division of natural resources, the Department of Environmental Protection. But the government bureaucrats have all given him the runaround. Even the state veterinarian won't come look at his herd. He's positive there's something going on. Some kind of cover up. DuPont's chemical plant is the main employer in the community. And they've got a lot of political power. And Tennant knows he's fighting a losing fight. And there's been so many times he's just felt like giving up. But every time he loses another one of his calves, Tennant feels the rage bubbling up all over again. They remind himself that he can't sit around, while his land and livestock are poisoned. Something has to change. Tennant walks back along the bubbling creek, heading toward his house. He doesn't know what it's going to take to clean up his water and save his land. But for now all he can do is file away this tape with all the others. You'll keep making phone calls and documenting evidence. And eventually, he knows he'll find someone who will listen. 2 years later, Robert Belat weaves through a maze of cubicles. He's in the office of Tafts, Tinius, and Hollister, one of the most prestigious law firms in the country. And as usual, the office is bustling with junior associates rushing past carrying stacks of files. Today, Belat is also in a hurry. He's an attorney at the law firm and he has a big case in front of him. He's got a lot of work to plow through before he can go home and see his wife and their new baby. The job can be stressful. But all in all, Belat has a good life. He's been with the firm eight years and has had his fair share of success. Right now, he's representing a multi-million dollar company that needs help navigating environmental regulations. It's Belat's job to help the company figure out how to clean up its pollution and avoid fines or any future lawsuits. Belat sits down in his desk ready to die back in to some complicated work. But before he can, his phone rings. Belat pauses. He really can't afford to take a call. He's got a mountain of work to get through. But the phone keeps ringing. And so Belat sighs and grabs the receiver. When he answers, he hears a voice with a thick apple latch and twang. The man on the other end of the line asks if this is Robbie Belat. Belat pauses. Robbie was his childhood nickname. He hasn't heard it in years. He has no idea who this might be. But Belat says, yeah, this is Robbie. Who's calling? The man identifies himself as Earl Tennant. He says he got his number from a friend of Belat's grandmother over in Parker'sburg, West Virginia. Hearing the name of that small rural town, Belat gets a warm feeling of nostalgia. He loves Parker's bird. That's where he used to spend summer holidays with his grandmother. The two would go out and milk the cows and then take hay rides at her friend's farm. Thinking back, those are some of Belat's happiest memories. Before he can get any more lost in remnesances, the man on the phone begins telling a long story. Tennant explains how his cows are dying. That his creek has been poisoned. And that the DuPont Corporation is responsible for the pollution that found the water and is killing his cows. Belat raises a night route. DuPont is an enormous manufacturer of chemicals. And a lot like the client's Belat's firm usually represents. He can't imagine a prominent company like DuPont, acting with such gross negligence. So Belat shakes his head and tries to maneuver out of the conversation. He's got work to do. He's trying to make partner at the firm and he can't waste time talking to some guy who's full of conspiracy theories. So Belat apologizes to Tennant, saying he wishes him luck figuring this out. But the farmer interrupts Belat, saying he has proof that backs up his accusations, videotapes, photos, autopsies of dead cows. All he's asking for is Belat to look at the evidence. Once he does, he'll realize something needs to be done. Belat stares out the window at the city's guideline. Normally, he works with big companies. Companies not dissimilar to DuPont. Certainly not small guys like Tennant. But there is something about the pain in this farmer's voice. His obvious love for his cows. And his connection to Belat's grandmother in her hometown. Before he realizes what he's doing, Belat agrees to meet with Tennant. They can sit down together and look at the evidence. And maybe Belat can offer some kind of help. Tennant's voice grows warm with gratitude. And he thanks Belat over and over, promising it'll be worth his time. Belat nods. And then as he hangs up, he exhales deeply. He can't believe he just agreed to this. He doesn't take on these kind of cases. Still at this point, there's no real harm. Belat hasn't promised anything. And if this farmer is as crazy as he sounds, Belat will just wish him luck and get back to the work that actually pays the bills. Two weeks later, Earl Tennant takes a seat in the lobby of a law firm in Cincinnati. He glances over at his wife, Sandy, squeezes her hand. And together, the two sit, waiting, getting ready to meet with the attorney, Robert Belat. It's a big day for Tennant. And he knows this might be his last chance to try to fix what's gone wrong at his farm. He spent two years begging government agencies to come take a look at the evidence to see how DuPont is poisoning his land. The chemical company is clearly dumping something toxic in a nearby landfill. And the white foaming water being pumped out of that landfill is making its way into Tennant's creek and killing his cows. But the state agencies have done nothing but ignore him or brush off his concerns. So he's had to try and find other options. That's why he and his wife drove hours to get to this firm to meet with the attorney Robert Belat. He might be their last hope. Tennant and his wife continue sitting in the lobby, waiting. When a pair of elevator doors opens down the hall, dark-haired man and a grey suit comes walking toward them. He smiles and introduces himself, saying he's Rob Belat, and it's good to meet them. They should come over, grab a seat in a more private space. Tennant nods, and as he and his wife follow Belat through the office, he becomes painfully clear that they are out of place. Everyone at this firm is wearing expensive suits and ties. Tennant himself is just in a flannel shirt and old jeans. This is not his world. And he can tell, these lawyers don't spend too much of their time with candle farmers. Soon they reach a conference room where they find another man waiting for them. He has silver hair and a calm expression. Belat introduces them to Tom Turp, one of the senior partners on the firm's environmental team. Tennant feels himself tensing up, as he looks back and forth at these two attorneys with their expensive haircuts and fancy suits. They're giving him and his wife a look of gentle curiosity, like they're doing this out of an act of charity. And Tennant gets a bad feeling. He suddenly wonders whether he should high-tail it out of here, get back to the farm in West Virginia. But Tennant calms himself down. He's driven too far to give in to insecurities. So instead, he grabs a seat and takes out the box he's been carrying all day. And one by one, he begins pulling out photos of dead animals. Then he repeats the story he's told so many times. How his creek has been polluted. How no one will do anything about it. How it seems like government regulators are in the pockets of Duplant. The two lawyers glance at each other, exchanging a look. Tennant can see they don't yet believe him. So he reaches into the box and fishes out of VHS tape. And then Tennant asks if they're ready to see something. That's pretty upsetting. The lot in the senior partner exchange another look. But they agree. They'll watch the video. Tennant inserts the tape into a VCR. And soon his home recording starts playing on the TV in the conference room. In the video, cows stagger across the grass. Their hides are patchy and covered in lesions. They clearly look sick. Druell comes pouring out of their mouths as the cattle walk around in a daze. Soon the video cuts out and Tennant turns and looks at the attorneys. These men are cattle farmers. But Tennant hopes even they can see there's something wrong with the cows. And to his surprise, Tennant notices a strange look in ballot size. It's almost like the attorney is fighting back tears. Suddenly, ballot rises and extends a hand. And he tells Tennant and his wife that he'll be in touch very soon. He doesn't know what to make of that though. He wants to ask whether that means ballot is going to take the case. But Tennant knows that's a little premature. So he and his wife thank the attorneys for their time and exit the office. As they walk back down to their car and get ready for the long drive back to West Virginia, Tennant notices a feeling beginning to surface. Something he hasn't felt in a long time. He's hopeful, optimistic even. Maybe after so many false starts, after so much pain. Maybe this time, something is finally going to change. A few minutes later, Robert Ballot sits back down on the conference room and turns to his boss. Ballot invited Tom Turp to join the meeting with the tenants, so Ballot could get a second opinion. But now that the meeting is over, Ballot is worried he made a grave mistake. And as if on cue, Turp smiles, says he won't lie, that meeting was certainly interesting. The lot shakes his head. He knew he shouldn't have invited the farmer and his wife. Ballot represents big corporate clients. That's his job. And now his boss might be thinking he has bad judgment. Maybe he thinks Ballot isn't a good fit for the firm. Ballot tries to be his boss to the punch. He says this whole thing was a mistake. The firm's regular clients would blanch if they found out the firm was representing one of their opponents. A guy who wants to sue DuPont over pollution? There's no question. Ballot is ready to walk away from this. But his boss takes a moment before responding. He says this is an unusual situation. But it's clear that this farmer, Earl Tennant, needs help. They could take the case and probably settle in a few months. And hardly anyone would hear about it. And besides working on behalf of a plaintiff could make Ballot a better defense attorney. Ballot sits back, a bit stunned. He thought his boss would quickly shoot this down. But Terp continues, saying this case could be a good exercise for Ballot. Still, he needs to be careful. In this kind of work, you don't get paid unless you win. So if Ballot wants to take this on, he'll have to keep billing for all his other cases. The mention of a billing gives Ballot a moment of pause. He's become the sole breadwinner for his family. And he and his wife have a new mortgage. He can't afford to take on anything that would cause him to fall behind on his billable hours at the firm. And it's not only a matter of his paycheck. If he doesn't hit his targets, he'll get a bad reputation at the firm. He might not make partner. But his boss tries to calm his fears. Terp says that this case should be easy. Just some routine permit checking and paperwork that kind of work Ballot could do in his sleep. Ballot smiles. It's good to have his boss in support. And while he's hesitant to take on such a risky case, he thinks back to the video he just watched. Those cows were undeniably sick. And Tennant seemed to have a solid belief that DuPont was responsible. Representing the farmer and his family feels like the decent thing to do. So despite his reservations, Ballot tells his boss he'll do it. He'll take the case. Soon Ballot is heading down the corridor back to his office. He opens his door and takes the seat at his desk. But as Ballot gazes at the stack of work sitting in front of him, he feels uneasy once again. Maybe his boss is right. At this case, he'll be over before it starts. But Ballot can't ignore a sinking feeling. A fear that he's about to start a war. A long crusade against one of the biggest companies in the world. American scandal is sponsored by Peloton. Normally right about now, I'd be lacing up my shoes to head outside for a long walk. But it's projected to be 108 degrees today. An excessive heat warning. So instead, I'm going to move this coffee table, clear some space, and open up my Peloton app. Staying motivated to stay moving is sometimes hard. And 108 degree temperatures will sap your motivation very quickly. Seriously, do not exercise in that sort of heat. Rather, download the Peloton app, designed to keep workouts fun and motivating. So you can start exercising, keep exercising, and see results. After I downloaded the Peloton app, I took a quick survey of my fitness goals and what equipment I had access to. The app provided me with page after page classes, strength, endurance, flexibility, and you can have all of it right now, because right now is the perfect time to try out Peloton. There are workouts you'll crave anytime, anywhere. Start your free 30-day app trial today. Learn more at, new members only in terms of apply. That's Hello, I'm Florence Given, the best-selling author of the book, Women Don't Are You Pretty and Girlcrush, and this is my podcast exactly. Join me as I connect with fascinating guests from authors, cultural commentators, doctors, thought leaders to psychologist, celebrities, and comedians. And guess what? We're back to do it all again in season two with the likes of the holistic psychologist, Victoria Skohn, and Iona David to name a few. Season two of exactly podcast out now, wherever you get your podcasts. It's June 8th, 1999. On his farm in Washington, West Virginia, Earl Tennant walks through a valley that's dappled with sunlight. The ground is covered with blue grass and clover, and the wildflowers have grown long and leaky in the late spring. Tennant enhales, breathing in fresh air. He loves this property with all his life, and it's moments like these that give him the strength to keep fighting, to save his land, and to make sure that DuPont is held accountable for polluting his water and killing his cattle. After so many setbacks, Tennant finally feels like he has some momentum. The attorney Robert Ballot agreed to work with him, but he's been moving slowly on the case and Tennant has grown impatient. But today, everything is about to change. Soon, Ballot is going to arrive at Tennant's farm, so he can gather some first-hand evidence of the pollution. And if Ballot thinks he has enough, he'll begin the legal process of suing DuPont, getting justice for Tennant and his family. But Tennant knows he can't just sit back and wait for Ballot to look around and make up his mind. He has to prove just how dire the situation has grown on the farm. So Tennant has prepared more evidence, in-controvertible proof that DuPont is poisoning his land. Tennant steps into his house and begins gathering the photos he's taken over the years. He pulls out a box with animal bones, including a cow skull with black teeth. And as he lifts up another box of home videos, he hears the sound of a car pulling into the gravel driveway. Tennant steps outside and finds Ballot walking toward the house. Farmer smiles. Ballot is dressed in a dark suit and buttoned down shirt. He looks like he's about to step into a conference room, not a barnyard. But Ballot doesn't care about appearances. And after the two men greet each other, Tennant leads Ballot back into the house. When they step into the kitchen, Tennant introduces the attorney to the rest of his family, including his brother and sister-in-law. They've all come to take part in today's meeting. Soon the group takes a seat at the table, and Tennant begins his presentation. He pulls out photos of his cattle, as well as official documents he filed with the government. And then Tennant reaches for the evidence that he sure will shock Ballot, set aside any remaining doubts that DuPont is poisoning the farm. Tennant opens his freezer, and takes out a number of organs he autopsied from his cattle. There are livers, kidneys, hearts, all of them misshapen, and covered in dark lesions. It doesn't take an expert to see that the cows were horribly sick when they died. Next, Tennant lifts up a jar of brown water. He explains that he gathers with the water from the creek, the same place where his cattle quench their thirst, every day. Reliving all the memories of his lost cattle, Tennant begins to grow full of rage. He starts talking a mile a minute, telling Ballot's story after story, an endless parade of dying animals, the government's unwillingness to do anything. Tennant knows he should slow down. The attorney Ballot looks overwhelmed as he tries to keep up while taking notes. But Tennant knows he has to convince Ballot, without a doubt, that DuPont is poisoning his land. So he continues to rattle off more horrifying stories. An eventually Ballot sets down his pen and just listens. Tennant keeps talking until his voice grows worse. And finally, when he said everything he wanted to, Tennant sits down. And let's Ballot take some time to process everything. As the attorney scribbles a few more notes, Tennant exchanges nervous looks with his family. It's anyone's guess whether Ballot is fully convinced or not. Finally, Ballot looks up from his notes. He tells the group that he's impressed with the collection of evidence. And what's happening on the farm is horrible. There's no doubt about it. The chemical company DuPont is clearly polluting their water and their land. DuPont has to be held accountable for its actions. It needs to compensate the family and clean up the mess. Hearing these words, Tennant is hopeful. But he wants to know what this means. What is Ballot planning to do? Ballot nods and looks around the table. He tells the Tennant family that in the next few days, he'll file their case in federal court. They're going to sue DuPont. And he's going to keep fighting until they get what's fair. And bring DuPont to justice. It's June 16, 1999, eight days later. In his office in Cincinnati, the attorney Robert Ballot sits reviewing a stack of paperwork. It includes the lawsuit he just filed on behalf of Earl Tennant and the Tennant family. Accusing DuPont of illegally dumping hazardous chemicals into dry, run landfill. The lawsuit alleges that these chemicals have leached into the nearby creek, poisoning the Tennant's water and killing their cattle. With those damages, the Tennants are demanding financial compensation from DuPont. They're also looking for the chemical company to clean up its mess. Ballot flips a page of the lawsuit and continues to review the list of allegations. This is not going to be an easy fight. DuPont is a major corporation, with nearly unlimited resources to wage a legal battle. Still losing is not an option. If the lawsuit is unsuccessful, it'll be an embarrassment for Ballot's law firm, and it could ruin his own professional reputation. And that's why Ballot is anxious to move ahead with discovery, the next stage of the legal process. In discovery, the two sides exchange information about the evidence and witnesses they'll bring up a trial. It's part of what keeps trials fair and honest. But for Ballot, discovery serves another purpose. It'll help him figure out whether he has a strong enough case, or whether he should back out of a losing lawsuit. Ballot flips another page when suddenly his phone rings. Hello, this is Robert Ballot. Hey Rob, good to hear your voice. Ballot pauses. The man on the other end of the line sounds like Bernard Riley, one of his former colleagues. Bernie. And the flesh. How you been, ma'am? I'm fine, thanks. How are you? I'm great. Your wife good, family good. Well, we're doing great too, but with this strange, I've been expecting a call from counsel over at DuPont. Well, you've got him. I want to talk to you about this whole case with Earl Tenet, the water in the cows. I think you and me, we can take care of things. Ballot smiles. He can't believe this stroke of luck. He knows Riley well, and he's a good man. If he's the one working for DuPont, maybe they'll be able to settle things quickly. Well, great. Bernie, let's do this. Um, it's about time to start talking discovery. Yeah, you're right. This would be the time to start laying our cards on the table, but before we get to that, I want to share something I just learned. Turns out, there's already an investigation going on at the Tenet's farm. DuPont is aware of the situation. The company is fully cooperating with the EPA. Oh, you're kidding, that's news to me. Not kidding at all. No, no, DuPont is covering all the bases. They're not trying to screw anyone over. What they did is they put together a group of six veterinarians. Three vats chosen by DuPont. Three chosen by the EPA. They call themselves the cattle team. Oh, right, yeah. Well, the name fits the bill, you know. But these guys are the real deal. Trained experts, they've been out there testing the creek water, seeing if there's any link with the cows that get sick. Well, that's, that's great. I'm really glad to hear it. You bet. It's news I was glad to share it. I mean, we're all friends. We want the same thing. Doesn't even matter that we're opposing council. Yeah, I'm really glad you see it that way. So let's talk about discovery. There's a pause. Well, Rob, what I'm trying to say is we can save ourselves a lot of work. The report from these vats is supposed to be coming back any day now. So how about let's hold off on a full-blown discovery until we get the report? Well, I'm not sure my clients would like any more delay. There's no harm in at least getting started. What'll you want? I'll send over the permits, deeds, regulatory filings, everything I've got on the landfill. And then once the report comes back, we'll have a better idea what we should ask for in discovery. The lot pauses. It's a bit of a big request, but Riley sounds sincere. Yeah, okay, we can do that. I'll look forward to seeing what the cattle team comes up with. And then we'll talk discovery. Sounds like a plan. And Rob, you know, like I said, we are friends. We're going to figure this out. Thanks, Bernie. All right, talk to you soon. The lot hangs up the phone and breathes the sigh of relief. For days, he's been worried that this case was a mistake. That he'd started a fight he couldn't win. But Riley is an honest man. And he's right, they can't afford to wait a few more days. They'll be armed with what should be conclusive information, showing whether the tenant's water has been contaminated or not. And once they know that, the lot can decide whether it's still worth risking his own reputation. And continue to wait to fight against a company as big and powerful as to Pant. The last one. Six months later, Robert Blott sits at his desk, pouring over documents from the Dupont case. He reads and rereads them again and again, and setting them back down Blott's size, unsure of what to do next. It's been half a year since he spoke with Bernard Riley, his old colleague and counsel for Dupont. Riley promised they'd soon get answers from the so-called cattle team, a group of veterinarians investigating Earl Tennant's farm. The group's report was supposed to offer a definitive answer, revealing whether Dupont's landfill is polluting the nearby creek or not. But so far, Blott hasn't gotten the report. And with weeks turning into months, Blott has come to realize that he's running out of time. The trial is now quickly approaching, and Blott only has me-relevant to support his claims. Blott rubs his eyes. It's late, and he needs to go home, grab a shower, maybe kiss his wife good night. But just as Blott stands to put on his coat, a messenger knocks on his door. He hands over an envelope. It's the long delayed report from the cattle team. Blott eagerly flips through the pages. There are a lot of photos, and a lot of data. But the group's conclusion is strikingly simple. There is nothing out of the ordinary and dry run creek. They found no evidence of contamination from Dupont's landfill. And they argue that Tennant himself must be causing the cow sickness, that he's a negligent farmer. Blott drops the report on his desk. These conclusions are preposterous. Tennant said he didn't trust the EPA, and now Blott is starting to think the farmer isn't so crazy after all. Maybe government agencies really are in Dupont's pocket. And then Blott has a stunning realization. He's been duped. His old colleague, Bernie Riley, suggested they hold off on sharing evidence. That was just a delay-tacting. Blott fell for it. He's furious with himself. But he won't fall prey to self-pity. Because if this is how Dupont wants to play, Blott is game. It's time to take off the gloves. And start demanding answers from Dupont. If you're into true crime, the Generation Y podcast is essential listening. We started this podcast over 10 years ago, to dissect some of the craziest and most notable murders, crimes, and conspiracy theories together, and we'd love for you to join us. Generation Y is one of the longest-running true crime podcasts out there, and we are still at it, unraveling a new case every week. We break down infamous cases like the Evil Genius Bank robbery, and lesser known cases like the case of Kimberly Rico. Did she actually kill her husband after they took part in a murder mystery game? We cover every angle, breaking down theories, diving deep into forensic evidence, and interviewing those close to the case. And with over 450 episodes, there's a little something for every true crime listener. Follow the Generation Y podcast on Amazon Music, or every listen to podcasts, or you can listen ad-free by joining Wondry Plus in the Wondry app. It's the spring of 2000 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Tom Turp makes his way through the busy offices of Taft, Statenius, and Hollister. As he rounds a corner, he approaches the office of his newest junior partner, Robert Ballot. Turp is fond of Ballot. He often feels more like Ballot's mentor than his boss, and he appreciates that his new junior partner isn't like the other slick attorneys at the firm. He owns only two suits and drives a 10-year-old Toyota Celica. His heart is clearly in the right place. And that's part of the reason Turp encouraged him to take on the case with Earl Tenet. It was a good opportunity for Ballot to grow as a lawyer, and to do the kind of work that would feel meaningful. But Turp knows it's been a hard case. He's seen endless boxes of documents being delivered to Ballot's office. He must be exhausted. But today, though, Turp has some good news. Something he hopes will breathe some more fire into his junior partner. Turp pushes open the door to Ballot's office. The floor is covered with stacks of documents, and Ballot is on the ground in order to make space for all the extra paperwork. Hey, Rob. I was going to ask if we could sit down and talk, but yeah, not a lot of places to sit. Sorry. No kidding. Mind if I come in, though? Ballot nods and Turp steps into the office. So, how you holding up? Oh, well, it's been a lot of late nights. Honestly, I'm wasted. DuPont has just been hammering me with discovery. Boxes, boxes, and boxes. Trying to drown me. Eh, looks like it. But anything turned up? No, not really. Lots of dead ends. I thought if I kept going, there had to be some sort of smoking gun. Something showing what DuPont is putting in that landfill. So I kept reading and kept reading. I-I haven't slept, but I haven't found a single thing. Oh, I'm so sorry, but you know, this isn't Hollywood. No one tells you, but being a lawyer means grinding it out. Hour after hour, day by day. Yeah. But I gotta tell you, I'm ready to go home. I want to see my wife. Oh, God, I want a good night's sleep. Well, Rob, before you go home and pass out, I want to tell you something that should cheer you up. I just received a very interesting call from our old pal, Bernie Riley. Blot sets down a document with a look of shock. Riley, he's been dealing with me directly. He went behind my back, talked to you. Why would that make me happy? Well, he said I should tell you to stop with all your aggressive requests and discovery. He said that you were asking for documents that were unnecessary. Uh, so first he strings us along with a bogus cattle team report. And now he's trying to undermine me with my balls? Hey, Rob, slow down. You know what this means, don't you? No. No, I don't. I'm tired and I'm fed up and I need a break. Hey, hey, look at me. I know you're tired. I know they're drowning you in documents. But if they try to go behind your back and kill this thing, that means DuPont is scared. It means you're on to something, something big. Blot leans back, looking both tired and anxious. Now Rob, I came to tell you two things. That was the first thing you're on to something. Number two is, keep up the good work. No matter how hard it gets, go give him hell, you hear me? Turp grins, without saying another word, he turns to make his way out of the office. As he heads back to his own office, Turp feels a strong pride at his junior par. Blot is fighting the good fight and he's giving it his all. Still, Turp does have concerns. The case is technically an extra-curricular activity, and does not part of Blot's normal job. And if it's already this draining, they could have a problem on their hands. Because Turp knows that from here on out, things are only going to get worse. DuPont is going to strike back, and with its full arsenal of expensive lawyers, the fight is going to get ugly. If Blot isn't careful, he might find himself in the crosshairs of a very powerful enemy. It's the fall of 2000, six months later. The evening has grown late, but Robert Blot is still in his office, pouring over documents. Blot glances at his watch. He wishes he could be home with his wife and child. But there's still so much to do. So many questions he's still trying to answer about this case. One issue has been especially vexing. It's a question about a chemical that DuPont calls C8. Blot read about the chemical in the documents that DuPont shared during discovery. He learned that DuPont has used the chemical for decades, and that the company has been dumping the chemical as a solid sludge into the landfill near Earl Tennis Farm. It was a shocking discovery. And if that wasn't enough, Blot also learned that, for years, DuPont has been testing its employees' blood, looking for the presence of C8. That means the company knew its chemical could pose a risk to human health. C8 could be the key to the case. If Blot can prove that this chemical is toxic, and that DuPont is aware of the risks, he'll have all the evidence he needs to win the case for Earl Tennis. That's why Blot is delighted when his phone rings. It's a chemist. One Blot had hired to try to make sense of what C8 is and whether it's toxic. The chemist reports that he has some answers. It turns out that C8 is essentially per floro-octonoric acid. The lot scratches his head. What does that mean? The expert left out a ride chuckle, explaining that this means C8 is a lot like PFOS, a substance so toxic, the EPA is trying to ban it from all American manufacturing. C8 is also a surfactant, a slippery substance that foams up in water like soap. And that might explain all the scum and foam in Earl Tennis Creek. The lot lingers back in his chair, stunned. DuPont has been dumping this chemical on a staggering rate. If it's really that toxic, then it's no wonder Earl Tennis cows have gotten so sick. But as Blot choose this over, he realizes something else, something far more troubling. DuPont has admitted using C8 to produce Teflon. A DuPont chemist named Roy Plunkett accidentally stumbled on Teflon in the 1930s. Since then, it's been used in a wide range of products, including as a non-stick coating for pots and pans across America. So that means C8 must be very valuable to DuPont. Teflon alone produces a billion dollars a year in revenue for the company. Blot thanks the chemist and hangs up the phone. And even though he now has what appears to be smoking gun evidence, he feels dizzy and overwhelmed. Because now it's clear that this case is much bigger than he ever imagined. DuPont has been dumping a toxic chemical into its landfill and lying to everyone. But there's no way the company is going to stop or clean up this mess, not without a huge fight. Because on the line, are billions of dollars. From Wondry, this is Episode 1 of the DuPont Chemical Cover-Up from American Scam. In our next episode, whistleblowers come forward to challenge DuPont and Robert Belaud has to decide how much he's willing to sacrifice in order to bring the company to justice. If you like our show, please give us a five-star rating and leave a review and be sure to tell your friends. I also have two other podcasts you might like, American History Tellers and Business Movers. Follow on Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, or wherever you're listening right now. Or you can listen to new episodes early and add free by subscribing to Wondry Plus in Apple Podcasts or in the Wondry app. You'll also find some links and offers from our sponsors in the episode notes. Supporting them helps us keep offering our shows for free. Another way you can support this show is by filling out a small survey at slash survey to tell us what topics we might come next. You can also find us and me on Twitter. Follow me at Lindsay A. Graham, Lindsay with an A, Middle and Initially, and thank you. While we use many sources in creating this season, key elements of the story were drawn from the book Exposure. By Robert Bilott, we highly recommend it. This episode contains reenactments and dramatized details. And while in most cases we can't know exactly what was said, all our dramatizations are based on historical research. American Scandal is hosted, edited, and executed produced by me, Lindsay Graham for Airship. Audio editing by Molly Bach, Sound Design by Derek Barrett, Music by Lindsay Graham. This episode is written by Anna Williams, edited by Christina Malzbrough. Our senior producer is Gabe Rither. Executive producers are Stephanie Gens, Jenny Lauer Beppman, and Marsha Louis for Wonder.