Groups file federal lawsuit over Flint’s lead-contaminated water

Jan. 28, 2016

The complaint, which alleges violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, aims to secure safe drinking water in the city.

FLINT, Mich. — Jan. 27, 2016 — A federal lawsuit has been filed by a coalition of local citizens and national groups over the lead contamination in Flint, according to a press release.

The complaint, which alleges violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, aims to secure safe drinking water in the city. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Concerned Pastors for Social Action and Flint resident Melissa Mays of Water You Fighting For, a Flint-based organization.

“Flint is Exhibit A for what happens when a state suspends democracy and installs unaccountable bean counters to run a city,” commented Michael J. Steinberg, legal director of the ACLU of Michigan in the release. “In a failed attempt to save a few bucks, state-appointed officials poisoned the drinking water of an important American city, causing permanent damage to an entire generation of its children. The people of Flint cannot trust the state of Michigan to fix this man-made disaster and that is why court oversight is critically needed.”

Specifically, the lawsuit asks the court to compel the city and state officials to follow federal requirements for testing and treating water to control for lead and to order the prompt replacement of all lead water pipes at no cost to Flint residents. The groups are also seeking appropriate relief to remedy the health and medical harm to Flint residents caused by the lead contamination.

The lawsuit does not seek monetary damages, the ACLU of Michigan said in a statement.

“The water in Flint is still not safe to drink because City and State officials are violating the federal law that protects drinking water,” claimed Dimple Chaudhary, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “In doing so, they are exposing the people of Flint to lead, a powerful toxin that can be devastating to young children. We are asking a federal court to step in because the people of Flint simply cannot rely on the same government agencies that oversaw the destruction of its infrastructure and contamination of its water to address this crisis.”

On Wednesday, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appointed a group of government officials, health professionals and other experts to implement long-term solutions for Flint’s water system.

The 17-member committee will recommend ways to help people exposed to lead, study Flint’s water infrastructure and determine possible upgrades.

You can find the entire release here.

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