Hard Metals Disease (1987) is the shocking story of the Valenite Corporation, a subsidiary of General Telephone and Electric (GTE) and an international corporation with factories in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. This investigative documentary spent four years tracking Valenite activities. Did Valenite knowingly expose its workers to hazardous substances? What happens to jobs and workers when factories move to Mexico? The trail of dead and sick workers Valenite left behind raises questions about corporate responsibility.
As a correspondent for NBC’s Today Show, Jon Alpert consistently brought investigative reporting on controversial social issues to commercial television. This Emmy® Award winning documentary examines “Hard Metals Disease,” cobalt poisoning among workers in the tungsten carbide machine tool industry. Alpert focuses on workers suffering from this debilitating, incurable lung disease who were exposed to cobalt dust at three plants of the Valenite Metals Corporation. Establishing a close rapport with the workers as they tell their own stories of Valenite’s negligence and subsequent cover-up, Alpert departs from standard television reportage in his powerful and unapologetic indictment of industry.