By Alaina Perdon
Elm Staff Writer
April 25 marks five full years that the residents of Flint, MI have been without clean water in their homes.
The catastrophe was brought on by a money-saving switch of drinking water sources. For 1,826 days, Flint residents have been exposed to dangerous levels of lead each time they turn on a faucet, all to save a few dollars on water treatment.
Since its impetus, the now-famous Flint Water Crisis has claimed approximately 15 lives and stunted the growth of up to 12,000 children exposed to lead during crucial developmental life stages. A public health state of emergency was declared, 79 lawsuits ensued, and several investigations were opened, but one problem remained unsolved: the people of Flint are still being poisoned every day.
Now, these victims may finally be getting the compensation they are entitled to.
Last week, federal judge Linda Parker ruled Flint residents could sue the federal government, as they believe the Environmental Protection Agency did not intervene in a timely manner after determining the danger evident in their city.
According to Judge Parker, the EPA has been aware of the lead contamination since 2014 and was also aware of Michigan regulators’ efforts to mislead residents about the quality of their water.
“The lies went on for months,” she said.
No amount of monetary compensation could completely right the wrongdoings in Flint. However, it could help to start reparations in the ruined city.
Innocent people are forced to rely on generous donations from outsiders or resort to drinking and bathing in poisonous water, all because of the incompetence of their local government. The federal government failed to intervene, costing 15 lives and putting thousands more in danger. Thousands of children have been robbed of their futures because their lives were deemed to be of less worth than a city’s water bill.
The disaster in Flint is the fault of systematic racism: the struggles of a poorer, predominantly black area ignored to preserve the comfort of the wealthier, whiter society surrounding it. By neglecting to take action to rectify the situation, the government projects the sentiment that they assign lesser value to this minority group.
The rest of society, too, has forgotten the plight of Flint. As Justice for Flint Facebook posts gradually become less prevalent, the residents of Flint suffer in silence. Now, it’s time for them to get the real justice they deserve.