1,700 residents of Flint, Michigan sue EPA over water crisis

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By Dan Whitcomb

<span class="articleLocation”>More than 1,700 residents of Flint, Michigan who
say the Environmental Protection Agency mismanaged the water
crisis that exposed thousands of children to lead poisoning have
sued the U.S. government, seeking class action status for their

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Michigan on
Monday, asserted that the EPA failed to warn them of the dangers
of the toxic water or take steps to ensure that state and local
authorities were addressing the crisis. The plaintiffs seek $722
million in damages.

“This case involves a major failure on all levels of
government to protect the health and safety of the public,” the
30-page lawsuit claims. “Local, state and federal agencies and
employees, working individually and at times in concert with
each other, mismanaged this environmental catastrophe.”

A spokeswoman for the EPA could not immediately be reached
for comment on the court action.

State officials said last week that lead levels in Flint’s
drinking water had fallen below federal limits although they
cautioned residents to keep using filtered water as the city’s
old lead pipes are replaced.

The water crisis erupted when tests in 2015 found high
amounts of lead in blood samples taken from children in Flint, a
predominantly black city of about 100,000.

Flint was under the control of a state-appointed emergency
manager when it switched its water source to the Flint River
from Lake Huron in April 2014. The more corrosive river water
caused lead to leach from pipes and into the drinking water.

Lead poisoning stunts children’s cognitive development, and
no level of exposure is considered safe. Flint’s contamination
prompted dozens of lawsuits and criminal charges against former
government officials.

The city switched back to the previous water system in
October 2015.

In December, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette charged
four former officials with conspiring to violate safety rules,
bringing to 13 the number of current and former officials
charged in connection with the crisis.

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