The city of Flint, MI is facing an unprecedented issue and an environmental catastrophe. For the past two years, the residents have been drinking water that has been so toxic it has 900 times the EPA limit for lead particles and has caused serious medical issues. The situation has become so critical that the State Police and other officials are going door to door handing out bottled water and water filters to the residents.The crisis came about because of a cost cutting measure instituted by a state appointed emergency city manager. To save costs, the water supply for Flint was switched from Lake Huron, which supplies the city of Detroit, to the heavily polluted Flint River. Soon after the switch, the water was brown and has a strange taste. Some thought it was sewage, but it was actually iron rust caused by damage from the corrosive waters of the Flint River. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality failed to treat the water with an anti-corrosive chemical in violation of federal law that would have cost $100 a day. The corrosion also caused lead to leak into the water from the service lines in many of the homes.
Despite having knowledge of a serious problem, city and state officials assured residents the water was fine, a lie that has caused many people to call for the resignation of Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and for criminal charges to be leveled against officials, including the governor. Because Flint is a city that has a large Black community, some are even stating that the water crisis is a blatant case of environmental racism. A class action lawsuit has been filed that states residents have suffered:
- High levels of lead and copper in their bloodstreams, brains, bones and other organs;
- Skin lesions and hair loss
- Chemical induced hypertension
- Autoimmune disorder
- Neurological disorders such as “brain fog”, seizure like convulsions, vision loss, memory loss
- Psychological disorders such as depression, chronic anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder and an inability to cope with normal stress
The Obama administration is following the crisis closely and FEMA officials are in the state trying to assist during the crisis. A state of emergency has been declared by Gov. Snyder for the city of 100K residents.The state is facing the prospect of paying hundreds of millions in claims from those affected as well as fines from the federal government.