The scope and tragedy of the Flint, Michigan, water crisis can’t be underestimated. Despite the outpouring of sympathy and donations of bottled water, it is simply not enough. The situation in Flint is the biggest environmental disaster since the Love Canal incident in Niagara Falls, New York, almost 35 years ago. In that disaster, residents in one neighborhood had been drinking toxic waste from a closed chemical company for decades. The residents were evacuated and the EPA provided cleanup and financial relief to the residents for the resulting harm. The cleanup ended in 2005 and cost an estimated $400 million.
The residents of Flint are now suffering from a man-made environmental disaster of staggering proportions. The entire water infrastructure of the city is contaminated and the financial and health impact cannot be alleviated with bottled water or donations from celebrities. The city of Flint must be evacuated just like the Love Canal neighborhood was 35 years ago.
Here are some shocking facts about the Flint water crisis you should know:
- The lead contamination is linked to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. There have been at least 87 confirmed cases and at least nine deaths in the Flint area.
- Only 14 members of the Michigan National Guard were initially mobilized by Gov. Snyder in response for a city of 100K to distribute water and water filters.
- Homeowners can’t sell their property because it is illegal to sell lead-contaminated homes.
- Residents of Flint, Michigan, are still being charged for water service for toxic waste: The EPA states that for lead five parts per million is considered unsafe to drink and 5,000 parts per million the water is considered toxic waste. Flint water has lead contamination levels of 13,000 parts per million.
- Minor children can be taken from their parents if there is no running water in the home: Not paying your water bill results in having your water turned off.
- Clothing and other personal items have been contaminated by lead. Residents unknowingly washed their clothing, bathed and cooked with the contaminated water.
- GM decided to close its plant in Flint years ago because of the water supply issues. The company did not want the liability of selling lead-contaminated cars in manufacturing.
- Car dealerships in Flint stopped washing their cars in the lot because the water was causing the paint to dull and peel off.
- The body does not expel lead and the estimated 9,000 children exposed to lead face lifelong learning disabilities and physical ailments.