City settles with lead poisoning victims of ‘Flint water crisis’

by Erika Stone, Senior Staff Writer
flint water settlement

The city of Flint, Michigan, has settled claims over the years-long water crisis that negatively impacted men, women, and particularly children across the majority-Black city. The $626 million dollar Flint water settlement will be divided up as soon as the judge decides how much will go to attorneys and how much to the victims.

The water crisis started in 2014, when the city-appointed emergency manager switched the water supply source from Detroit to the Flint River. The city did not use anti-corrosion chemicals during the process, which caused lead to leak into the water supply, affecting the then-100,000 residents. 

While lead is toxic to all people, it is particularly detrimental to children. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there is no safe level of lead for children. Lead poisoning can cause brain damage, limited growth, and interrupts appropriate development. 

flint settlement

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer(source: State of Michigan) Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said a proposed $600 million deal between the state of Michigan and Flint residents harmed by lead-tainted water is a step toward making amends.

Residents blast settlement

The population of Flint has now shrunk to approximately 80,000 residents from the high of 100,000. Over 50,000 citizens have made claims against the city, although not every claim has been deemed valid.

Meanwhile, not every resident is happy with the results. One citizen, 72-year-old Claire McClinton, believes the Flint water settlement is too small, and plans to sue as an individual plaintiff. “I’m just very, very disappointed,” said Ms. McClinton.

However, U.S. district judge Judith Levy noted in her 178-page order, “The settlement reached here is a remarkable achievement for many reasons, not the least of which is that it sets forth a comprehensive compensation program and timeline that is consistent for every qualifying participant.”

Effects will last for decades

The Flint water crisis is one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. Additionally, the crisis highlighted racial inequalities among citizens, as at least half of those affected were Black men, women, and children. 

However, officials responsible for the man-made disaster are beginning to face repercussions. In January, former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder was charged with two counts of willful neglect. 

Yet the long-term effects will linger for decades, as parents grapple with a host of problems foisted on their innocent children. According to Corey Stern, an attorney for the plaintiffs, “Although this is a significant victory for Flint, we have a ways to go in stopping Americans from being systematically poisoned in their own homes, schools, and places of work.”

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