It’s been a busy few days in Flint, Michigan.
On Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lifted its recommendation that pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under 6 consume only bottled water to avoid lead exposure.
The Associated Press reported:
The announcement is based on tests of filters that have been distributed for months for free by the state of Michigan and the federal government. The EPA says the filters remove or reduce lead to well below the action level of 15 parts per billion. The EPA says samples from high-risk areas in Flint have been coming back at less than 1 part per billion.
According to DetroitNews.com:
“These findings reaffirm the effectiveness of filters at removing or reducing lead. This is an important step forward for providing a stable water system for the City of Flint,” said Tom Burke, EPA science adviser and deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development, in a statement. “Residents can be confident that EPA’s sampling results correspond with previous tests and are consistent with outside experts’ findings.”
The state’s Flint Water Response Team has distributed more than 124,000 water filters in the city since January.
Gov. Rick Snyder has issued a statement, which a political reporter for the Detroit News shared on Twitter. Snyder seeks to reassure people that the water is safe, and he said the EPA’s decision to lift the ban indicates progress and collaboration:
Not everyone on Twitter agreed. #FlintWater had numerous comments about this week’s gun violence sit-in led by congressional Democrats, noting that the Flint crisis hasn’t garnered the attention it has needed:
The litigation side of things
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has kept the lead contamination story front and center with his actions in the Genesee County Circuit Court.
On Wednesday, Schuette filed a civil lawsuit against French engineering company Veolia Environnement SA and Houston-based engineering services firm Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam (LAN). He said the companies “botched” their roles in the water crisis that exposed people to dangerously high lead levels.
According to Yahoo News:
The lawsuit charged Veolia with professional negligence and fraud that caused Flint’s the lead poisoning to continue and worsen, and LAN with professional negligence. Schuette said the state is seeking damages from the companies that could total hundreds of millions of dollars. His office said additional claims against the firms or others may be filed in the future.
At a press conference, Schuette said:
Many things went tragically wrong in Flint, and both criminal conduct and civil conduct caused harm to the families of Flint and to the taxpayers of Michigan. In Flint, Veolia and LAN were hired to do a job and failed miserably, basically botched it. They didn’t stop the water in Flint from being poisoned. They made it worse.
In a statement, LAN said it “was not hired to operate the water plant and had no responsibility for water quality.” The statement also said the firm will “vigorously defend itself against these unfounded claims.”
Another headline that had social media buzzing involved news about a legal bill of nearly $500,000 for a former Flint supervisor:
[The city] may be on the financial hook for a long time picking up the legal tab in a potential criminal probe of a former emergency manager as well as giving out a handsome severance to a former city attorney who resigned his job to take another position.
No summer doldrums here; the news cycle in Flint remains busy.