Families in Flint are demanding accountability in the city’s ongoing lead water crisis.
Yesterday morning, seven families filed a federal class-action lawsuit alleging gross negligence on the part of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder along with other state and federal officials and agencies, reports NBC News. They are seeking an unspecified amount of damages for their 17 children—along with the thousands of others—who have suffered stunted mental development due to the lead poisoning.
“Lead poisoning is an insidious disease,” said Hunter Shkolnik, one of the families’ lawyers, to NBC. “We know the brain is permanently and irreversibly damaged, but it doesn’t manifest itself immediately. These children have been pushed so far down now they cannot ever achieve what was expected of them.”
Melissa Lightfoot, one of the women who brought forth the lawsuit, told NBC that her three children were found to have dangerous levels of lead in their bloodstreams. Though longterm effects are unknown, she said that all of her children have been diagnosed with ADD, are more argumentative and have suffered from both hair loss and rashes.
“My kids are getting poisoned from something that’s a necessity, and as a parent, there’s nothing I can do to help them,” she said. “It’s already in them, I can’t take it out, and there’s no medicine for it.”
Over the course of the last two years, an estimated 8,000 children in Flint have been exposed to lead after the city switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River to cut costs.
Michigan lawmakers have pledged millions of dollars to fight the crisis. Last month, the state legislature approved $30 million in funding to alleviate residents’ water bills, and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver announced a $55 million effort to replace the city’s corroded water pipes. Though nearly 100,000 people have been affected, no one has been indicted for the poisoning.