Settlement of $ 626 Million with Residents of American Town Flint After Lead Poisoning in Drinking Water
The US state of Michigan has reached a $626 million settlement with tens of thousands of residents of the town of Flint over lead-contaminated tap water. A federal judge has approved the amount, the highest settlement ever in Michigan.
“This is a historic and important day for the people of Flint, who are finally beginning to see justice.” Ted Leopold, one of the most influential lawyers in the procedure dragging on for years now, has the floor. Finally, finally, seven years after the lead poisoning in Flint’s drinking water (2014-2015), the victims know how much they will be compensated.
A federal judge yesterday approved a $626 million settlement with tens of thousands of residents of the town, north of Detroit, Michigan. The state of Michigan is paying most of the money, $600 million. The city of Flint is paying 20 million, and a local hospital and a construction company are also paying.
Most of the money will go to child victims. It is not yet clear how much each child will receive. More than half of Flint’s 81,000 residents had applied to receive a portion of the settlement. The rest of the money will go to adults who can prove injuries and to business owners and anyone who paid a water bill at the time.
The problems with the drinking water in Flint started in 2014. Flint was once a prosperous city, with the largest factory of car manufacturer General Motors. But then it fell into disrepair. So to save money, the town decided with the approval of the then governor of Michigan to temporarily switch to drinking water from the Flint River of the same name instead of using water from the neighbouring city of Detroit.
But due to the acidity of the river water, the lead appeared to dissolve from the old water pipes, causing the residents’ tap water to come out contaminated with lead. That water also lost its clarity and often turned orange, yellow or brown. Despite this, families paid $150 and more per month for toxic water they couldn’t use.
After an investigation in the fall of 2015, they switched to drinking water from Detroit again, but for many residents, the damage was long done. However, the complaints of the often poor, black inhabitants were not heard for a long time.
Several studies eventually found lead poisoning in large part of the population. More than 25,000 were found to have suffered health damage, such as diarrhoea, skin rashes or hair loss. Some children have permanent brain damage. Lead can disrupt the development of a child’s brain and cause attention and behavioural problems.