Flint Water Crisis Victims Awarded $626 Million

Victims of the Flint, Michigan lead water crisis have been awarded a $626 million settlement. 

A federal judge approved the settlement for victims in a case brought by tens of thousands of residents affected by the extremely contaminated water. 

District judge Judith Levy called it a remarkable achievement that sets forth a comprehensive compensation program as well as a specific timeline that is consistent for every individual who qualifies as a participant in the settlement. The judge had given preliminary approval earlier this year to a partial settlement of lawsuits that were filed by victims. 

A majority of the money will come out of the state of Michigan. The state was accused of repeatedly overlooking the risks of using the Flint River as a water source without properly treating the water. 

In 2014, the city of Flint switched its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River in order to cut costs. At the time, the city was in a state of financial emergency, and looked to the water cost cut as a way to save millions of dollars. However, the water switch was made without treating it properly. 

The corrosive river water caused lead to infiltrate the water from the pipes, contaminating the water and causing an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. At least 12 people died from exposure to the water. Nearly 100,000 city residents were left without access to safe tap water. 

Residents began noticing that the water sometimes came out blue or yellow. Many began to lose their hair. People developed rashes on their faces and across their bodies. But despite the physical signs the water was poisoned, and residential complaints that the water tasted and looked wrong, local officials denied anything was wrong for more than a year. 

It marked one of the U.S.’s worst public health crises in recent times. It also highlighted racial inequality in the country, as more than half of the residents of Flint are Black. Activists said that this would have never happened in a whiter or wealthier city. 

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