The situation in Flint has turned out to be worse than originally thought. The conduct by a number of governmental officials was deplorable. There can be no excuse for the neglect and indifference by these officials who failed to deal with the impdending disaster. Flint and state officials have been hit with another lawsuit stemming from the disastrous, cost-cutting measure that switched Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron to the highly contaminated Flint River – a move that corroded water pipes and exposed thousands of residents to lead poisoning.
The last lawsuit was filed in a Michigan federal court on behalf of Flint residents by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, the Concerned Pastors for Social Action, and Flint resident Melissa Mays. The complaint asks the court to order the immediate replacement of all the lead pipes in Flint’s water system – a goal that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has said would be a long-term effort.
The lawsuit accuses state and city officials involved in the Flint water disaster of violating the federal Safe Water Drinking Act when it failed to properly treat the water and supply pipes for corrosion, neglected to test the tap water for lead after it switched sources, avoided notifying residents of results when the problem became apparent, and other reporting errors.
Because of these failures, highly corrosive water from the Flint River flowed through the city’s pipes for months, damaging them and allowing dangerous levels of lead to leech into the water supply. It is not yet known how many Flint children will have to live with the permanent and debilitating effects of lead poisoning.
Residents have been complaining of foul-tasting, discolored water for more than a year, but their concerns and those of researchers confirming their concerns were often met with derision and ridicule and then dismissed. Flint has since started drawing water from Detroit’s system as a new pipeline from Lake Huron is being installed, but because of the damaged infrastructure, Flint residents still aren’t able to drink unfiltered tap water.
Gov. Snyder’s administration estimates it will cost about $55 million to replace about 15,000 damaged lead service lines connecting homes and other buildings to the water main. The lawsuit asks that the repairs to the infrastructure be made at no cost to customers. Gov. Snyder should accept responsibility for his administration’s conduct. In fact, many believe he should resign. His lack of concern when he should have acted is totally unjury.
The lawsuit joins several others filed against state officials since the water crisis became exposed in the fall. Two of the lawsuits seek class-action status and financial compensation for customers harmed by the toxic water. Another lawsuit contends that Flint residents should not have to pay their water bills as long as they are receiving unsafe water.
Sources: The Globe and Mail; CBS News; and Roanoke Times
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