Victims Of The Flint Water Crisis Can Now Sue The Federal Government For The Environmental Calamity

The latest development comes after a judge’s ruling condemns the EPA.

Protester during Jesse Jackson-led National March in Flint
Photo Credit: Getty Images

| April 23 2019,

2:37 pm

A federal judge ruled Flint, Michigan, residents can sue the federal government for its role in the five-year water crisis. 

CNN reports U.S. Judge Linda V. Parker ruled Thursday that the federal government is not immune from litigation.

Since the onset of the crisis, there have been numerous lawsuits filed against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for reportedly not acting quickly enough. Currently, there are about a dozen lawsuits against the city of Flint and the state of Michigan. Many of the lawsuits alleged the government knew the Flint River water source and outdated piping were contaminated with lead in 2014 and 2015. 

"The impact on the health of the nearly 100,000 residents of the City of Flint remains untold," Parker wrote in the April 18 ruling. "It is anticipated, however, that the injury caused by the lead-contaminated public water supply system will affect the residents for years and likely generations to come."

The recent news came after the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced a $77.7 million loan for water projects in Flint, reports ABC 12. Essentially, the loan will be a grant as there will be a 0% interest rate and the entire loan will be forgiven.

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Parker's ruling pinned a large share of the blame for the crisis on the EPA, claiming the agency was "well aware that the Flint River was highly corrosive and posed a significant danger of lead leaching."

Lawsuits filed against the EPA also echo several of Parker's arguments. In the last five years, the agency knew there were possible health risks stemming from the lead-contaminated Flint River. The judge believes the agency acted "negligently" on all levels while handling the crisis.

A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak caused by the tainted tap water reportedly killed 12 citizens. Additionally, lead poisoning has become such an issue, residents are focusing on improving access to fruits and vegetables to deal with side effects, reports Popular Science. Nutritious foods tend to have calcium and iron to combat lead in the body. 

Flint officials "were not warning Flint's residents that they were being supplied lead-laced water. Quite to the contrary, the EPA learned that State and local officials were misleading residents to believe that there was nothing wrong with the water supply," the judge wrote.

In early April, another judge ruled citizens were allowed to sue Michigan's former Gov. Rick Snyder.

The Associated Press reported Judge Judith Levy released a 128-page opinion stating Snyder's Department of Environmental Quality failed to provide corrosion control.

Experts reportedly warned higher-ups that the city's switch to the Flint River would negatively affect residents' health, but the switch was pushed through anyhow. The opinion also noted the city of Flint was under state management from 2014 to 2015 at the start of the crisis. 

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