Flint's water crisis is far from over
A new lawsuit has been filed against those responsible for the crisis that broke out in 2014
Leer en Español: La crisis de Flint no ve la luz al final del túnel
Lawyers from 21 different firms have filed a class action suit against two engineering firms, Flint officials, and state officials, including Michigan’s governor Rick Snyder and former state treasurer Andy Dillon, over lead contamination in the town’s drinking water.
About 100,000 residents of Flint "have experienced and will continue to suffer serious personal injury and property damage caused by the deliberate, reckless, and negligent conduct of the defendants," the lawsuit states.
It is also argued that the engineering firms and government officials did not treat Flint residents, many of whom are African Americans, in the same manner as the predominantly white residents of Genesee County. The lawsuit on behalf of Flint's 100,000 residents and other users of its water system also states that the defendants acted recklessly and failed to respect the due process of law of those that live in the area.
Theodore Leopold, the lead attorney in the case, said he was pleased with the consolidation of the law firms because it allows the case to proceed faster. "This case has been going on for too long and, unfortunately, neither the governor nor any of the other defendants have been willing to take action and take responsibility", Leopold stated while filing the suit. The lawyer says it will take two more years to bring the case to a jury trial.
Flint's drinking water pollution problem began on April 2014 when Flint switched from treated water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (from Lake Huron and the Detroit River) to the Flint River. Officials did not apply corrosion inhibitors to said water. As a result, there were a number of problems that culminated in lead contamination, creating a serious public health hazard. Not until 2015, the water source was switched, but the damage had already been done.
Water quality has improved to the point that lead levels are within federal guidelines, but people are still being told to drink only filtered or bottled water until all of the city's pipes are replaced. Flint City Council refuses to approve a 30-year contract with the Detroit regional water system, arguing it may find a cheaper alternative. The problem now is that Flint residents cannot wait any longer, and the Flint administration does not expediting the contract award process.
Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto