Michigan Water Crisis: Attorney General Files Lawsuits

Michigan Attorney General Schuette has filed a lawsuit against two water companies in connection with the Flint drinking water crisis. Veolia North America and Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, or LAN, have been named in the lawsuit on behalf of Flint’s lead-poisoned drinking water. Both companies were awarded contracts to help with advising on using the Flint River as its drinking water.

The Flint River. Flint, MI
Flint’s drinking water was switched from the Detroit water system to the Flint River and was treated at Flint Water Treatment Plant. Corrosive water caused lead to leak into the pipes because corrosion control chemicals were not added to the water, according to the Detroit Free Press.

It is estimated that 6,000 and 12,000 children in Flint have been diagnosed with lead poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, blood levels of five micrograms per deciliter or higher of lead in blood for children can be dangerous.

Veolia is a French company that works in the areas of water and waste management and energy. Veolia began working in Flint, Michigan, in February 2015. Veolia claimed that the drinking water was safe but had failed to noticed the corrosion in the lead pipes, CNN News reports.

Federal State Of Emergency Declared In Flint, Michigan Over Contaminated Water Supply
Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, an engineering company, had been hired in April 2014. The company had been hired to help with the water crisis and oversee the water treatment plant. The lawsuit claims that Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam had known that water needed anti-corrosion treatment chemicals and never checked the drinking water coming out of the tap, Crain’s Detroit Business explains.

Three government officials from Flint have already resigned for the way they handled the crisis. Michael Prysby, Stephen Busch, and Michael Glasgow were arrested for tampering with evidence. Both Prysby and Busch pleaded not guilty. Michael Glasgow was charged with allegedly falsifying test results.

Lead in drinking water causes a potential safety issue. Lead is odorless and tasteless in drinking water and can go undetected. Children exposed to lead can suffer serious health issues, including learning disabilities, brain damage, seizures, behavioral problems, lower IQs, and sometimes death.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends your child be tested for lead levels at ages 1 and 2. Children at these ages tend to put many things in their mouths, such as peeling paint. House paint before 1978 contained lead. In 1978, the federal government banned the use of lead-based paint. The government passed the Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act in 1971.

Lead testing in the United States began in 1887, when medical authorities started testing children for lead poisoning.

Lead is a toxic metal that is found in the Earth’s crust. Lead has been used for many things worldwide, including manufacturing, leaded paint and leaded gasoline, toys, ceramics, pipes for plumbing, soil, and newspaper ink.

On January 5, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency before President Obama declared a federal state of emergency for Flint, Michigan’s water crisis.

Snyder stated, “You deserve accountability. You deserve to know that the buck stops here, with me. Most of all, you deserve to know the truth,” according to NPR.

Federal officials have distributed water filters to Flint. Over 124,000 water filters and 270,000 filter cartridges have been sent to Flint for the water crisis.

Federal State Of Emergency Declared In Flint, Michigan Over Contaminated Water Supply
All homes in Flint are having water filters installed in their homes. Some homes still need to use bottled water until their faucets can be fitted with the new filters.

According to a report by local, state, federal, and outside experts, water filters are effective in removing lead from water and that filtered water is safe to drink, reported the Detroit Free Press.

The lawsuit filed for the water crisis claims both companies used “fraudulent and dangerous recommendations [that] made a bad situation worse,” Attorney General Bill Schuette stated.

The water crisis in Flint is also being blamed for outbreaks and deaths related to Legionnaires’ disease. Genesee County confirmed that 91 cases have been confirmed and that 12 people have died. Legionnaires’ disease, also known as legionella, is a severe form of pneumonia and can be fatal if not treated correctly. According to the Mayo Clinic, Legionnaires’ disease is not transmitted person to person but through soil or breathing in contaminated water droplets.

The water crisis lawsuit filed can lead to millions of dollars in damages.

[Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images]