Date: January 21, 2021
Source: News Room
From 2014-2019, Flint, MI was racked by a water crisis that attracted national attention. After the city switched from Detroit water sourced from Lake Huron to water sourced from the Flint river, many residents of the city became exposed to high levels of lead. This was due to the lack of corrosion inhibitors applied to the water, which allowed lead to seep from the aging pipes. In 2019, after possibly 12,000 children had been affected by the crisis, the city finally declared that most of the aging pipes had been replaced by new copper ones, with only a few remaining to excavate. Residents who had been impacted received $641 million in a settlement. Additionally, charges recently have been brought against several state and local officials deemed responsible for the crisis, including former Governor Rick Snyder.
Among the other officials charged, Nick Lyons, the former head of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Dr. Eden Wells, the state's former top medical executive, each face 9 charges of involuntary manslaughter. These charges stem from the claim that both officials failed to publicize the outbreak of Legionnaires disease that stemmed from the water crisis and claimed 12 lives. Rich Baird, a former advisor to Rick Snyder, also faces charges of misconduct in office, perjury and obstruction of justice.
For over 5 years, the Flint water crisis has captured the attention and concern of Americans across the country. The impacts of the crisis will linger for many of the victims, as the health effects of lead poisoning can be lifelong. As Governor Whitmer attempts to gain back the trust of Flint natives, it makes sense that she has focused on bringing charges against the former officials. We have yet to see if these charges will see their day in court, but it is likely that the residents of Flint are hopeful that justice will be done.