Dark Waters

In 1986 I met Patrick Wall, a Greenpeace activist with a passion for direct action. He scaled smokestacks to protest acid rain, spent three months in a Japanese jail for freeing dolphins and sprayed baby harp seals green in Newfoundland to sabotage the fur trade’s annual seal hunt.

Patrick was the real deal.

In 1984 Patrick and his partner, Janet Bridgers, founded Earth Alert, a nonprofit agency dedicated to educating the public about environmental issues. 

Patrick Wall on a boat.
Patrick Wall sailing into action. Photo: Earth Alert!

We teamed up to produce several programs for local cable television, including Dark Waters, an Emmy winning documentary that exposed the human health risks of water pollution in Marina del Rey, California, and the failure of local government to address the problem.

On stage at the Emmy Awards at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in May 1988, Patrick thanked the city and county of Los Angeles for providing the “raw material” for the documentary.

Watch the Documentary

Public pressure following the release of the documentary prompted Los Angeles officials to promise to clean up the harbor. But a 2009 study revealed that Marina del Rey was still the most toxic harbor in California more than two decades after we first reported on the problem. Heal the Bay says the overall health of the public beach at Marina del Rey has improved since 2015 but it still scores an “F” on the group’s weekly report card in the winter.

Dark Waters was co-produced by Daal Praderas, who narrated the program. Adam Yurman, guitarist for the Al Stewart Band, composed and performed the score.

Patrick Wall died March 1, 2014 at the age of 69.

5 thoughts on “Dark Waters”

  1. My name is Rim Fay and until now had not seen this video. I am saddened to hear that Patrick is no longer with us. I’m glad to hear that he won an award for helping bring attention to the water quality of the marina and the Bay! Thank you for sharing the video today.

  2. Thank you very much for posting the documentary! I was fortunate to know him since 1997, but this is the first time I saw his documentary. I saw his Emmy award statue at his West Hollywood home. It was scarred and placed on a book case casually, showing he didn’t really care about the pomposity. :)

  3. Over 3 decades later elected and appointed local, state and federal government officials and corrupted non-profits, especially Heal The Bay, and the pollution remains in the Marina Del Rey Harbor despite an outstanding 303d Clean Water Act violation for copper exceeding established TMDLs. What is their solution? Pay UCLA’S Richard Ambrose, SCCWRP scientist Dr Steven Bay and others $4 million to do yet another study to reconsider the TMDL. Yes, they want to weaken protection. They are so blatant at the preconceived study outcome that removing and maintaining the harbor sediments is absent from the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission’s workplan. Patrick and my marine scientist father Dr Rimmon C Fay are rolling in the waves over how deliberately dishonest the science and politics have become. What is the solution to this debacle? I and others have proposed to design a boat that can vacuum the sediment which can then hauled away to a beneficial reuse solutions facility. Wouldn’t that be nice?

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