Anne Fischel and Lin Nelson

Director, Short Documentary Filmmaker

Under the Stack documents the efforts of three communities to answer one urgent question: what has made people in our community sick?

What El Paso, Texas, Corpus Christi, Texas and Hayden, Arizona have in common is their long-standing relationship with one corporation: ASARCO, the American Smelting and Refining Company. In 2005, after decades of struggle over unsafe working conditions, toxic emissions, and a record of sham recycling, the company entered chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing its environmental liabilities as the primary cause. A successful outcome would allow ASARCO to negotiate down its expenses at an estimated 90 polluted sites in the U.S. in order to stay in production and increase profits.

During this period, former workers and residents began to challenge company practices and link their health problems to its toxic emissions. The film documents their efforts to understand the consequences of working at ASARCO and living under the stack. Engaging in citizen research and organizing, people challenged ASARCO’s record on health and safety and raised urgent questions about the government’s ability and willingness to protect its citizens from corporate abuse.