Flint Citizens Free to Sue Over Lead Crisis… Will It Do Any Good?
To sue or not to sue. That is the question.
And the answer for many residents of Flint, Michigan is to sue. Actually, that’s been their wish all along.
But now they can. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that residents of the city that became the poster child for lead contamination in water may sue the government.
Flint government officials have been claiming “qualified immunity” to protect themselves from lawsuits. But the Supreme Court tossed that shield out the window.
A Grim Look Back
We all know there was a major, ongoing lead contamination problem in the Flint water system.
But it’s likely most of us have forgotten the details of this travesty. So let’s take a look back to review.
After that I’ll give you more details about the Supreme Court decision. And what Flint residents are doing about it.
And I’ll let you know what some Flint residents are saying about the entire affair and their efforts to deal with it.
Fatal Water Switch
In 2014, the Flint government made a cost-saving decision. But it ended up being a very costly decision.
They switched their city’s drinking water supply from Detroit’s system to the Flint River.
The biggest problem here was the inadequate treatment and testing of this new water supply.
And considering the Flint River’s history, there’s no way this decision should have been made without thorough treatment and testing.
Lead Levels Double in Kids
For the next 18 months, complaints poured in from Flint residents. They said their tap water was discolored, smelled bad and tasted strange.
They also reported skin rashes and hair loss. As time went on, various groups tested the water. It was learned it contained dangerous levels of lead.
Far more horrifying to parents than bad-tasting water and skin rashes was this. The lead levels in children’s blood were found to be double or triple what they had been.
That’s when panic and anger really kicked in. Lead can cause serious health problems for adults. It can also produce lower IQ, affect physical growth and cause behavioral problems in children.
Not to mention contributing to anemia, hearing impairment and cardiovascular disease. The damage is difficult to reverse and can last a lifetime.
A History of Contamination
Back to the Flint River for a moment. For more than a century, businesses had been dumping waste into it.
Including carriage and car factories and meatpacking plants. Plus lumber mills and paper mills.
In addition, the city’s waste treatment plant dumped raw sewage into it. Also entering the river was agricultural runoff. And toxins from leaching landfills.
It was so bad that rumors circulated about the Flint River catching on fire more than once.
Researchers Shocked at Results
Remarkably, Flint officials failed to ensure water from the Flint River was properly treated. Lead leached out from aging pipes into thousands of homes. But Flint officials insisted the water was safe to drink.
In 2015, Virginia Tech University researchers studied the issue. They took water samples from 252 homes.
Nearly 17 percent of the samples registered above the federal “action level” for lead of 15 parts per billion (ppb). More than 40 percent of the samples registered at over 5 ppb.
Dr. Marc Edwards was a research team member. He said, “The (lead) levels we have seen in Flint are some of the worst I have seen in more that 25 years working in the field.”
Bottled Water Delivery a Small Win
The blood reports for children then came in. They showed that some 9,000 Flint children had been drinking lead-contaminated water for 18 months.
Mona Hanna-Attisha is a Flint pediatrician. She said, “Lead is one of the most damning things you can do to a child in their entire life-course trajectory.”
Local residents petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to take action. That went nowhere.
But in 2016, a federal judge stepped in. He ordered door-to-door delivery of bottled water. That was to every Flint home without a properly installed and maintained faucet filter.
Criminal Charges Filed
In 2017, a settlement was reached. It required the city to replace thousands of lead pipes carrying water to residences.
There were signs the situation was improving for many Flint citizens. From July 2016 to June 2018, testing showed lead levels below the federal action level.
Meantime, 15 city officials were charged with criminal responsibility. For causing or contributing to the crisis.
Among those charged were Nick Lyon, director of Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services. And Eden Wells, the state’s chief medical executive.
‘They Knew What Was in That Water’
Now Flint residents have an open door to seek damages for the city’s contaminated drinking water. Thanks to the Supreme Court decision.
Some 30,000 Flint residents have filed lawsuits. One of them is Margaret Wesley. She blames the drinking water switch for her adult daughter’s death.
“They knew,” she said of government officials who denied the problem. “I’ll go to my grave believing they knew what was in that water.”
With deals cut and some charges dropped, it’s uncertain if the lawsuits will end up in court.
Summing up the frustration, Flint resident Claire McClinton said this. “The people in Flint, in terms of justice, holding people accountable and compensation… we are batting zero.”
A Safeguard Against Lead
Of course, the problem of lead in water is not confined to Flint. Between 2015 and 2018, approximately 5.5 million Americans unknowingly received their water from systems exceeding the federal lead action level.
The fact is, it's becoming more and more clear that the government is not able to protect your family when it comes to the water supply.
You must take matters into your own hands if you want to ensure your family always has safe, clean water to drink.
That's why I'm excited to tell you about a revolutionary new water pitcher from our buddy Jeff over at Patriot Health Alliance: the Patriot Pure Pitcher.
This pitcher filters out 99.99% of heavy metals. Including lead, copper, mercury, aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, chromium 6, asbestos and more. Plus radiological elements such as radon 222, plutonium, uranium and cesium. And so much more.
It gives you all the convenience of a water pitcher that fits directly in your fridge. Yet it can filter out truly scary stuff that other pitcher brands fall short on removing.