Judge approves $626 million settlement in Flint water crisis case
A federal judge has approved a partial settlement that will provide $626.25 million to tens of thousands of Flint, Michigan, residents who for years were impacted by exposure to lead in their drinking water. The settlement, approved on Wednesday by United States District Judge Judith E. Levy, is one of the largest in Michigan's history.
"The settlement reached here is a remarkable achievement for many reasons, not the least of which is that it sets forth a comprehensive compensation program and timeline that is consistent for every qualifying participant, regardless of whether they are members of a class or are non-class individuals represented by their own counsel," Levy said.
Those eligible to receive compensation from the settlement include adults who can provide proof of an injury as a result of lead exposure, children exposed to lead and those who paid water bills.
The massive settlement was announced last year by Attorney General Dana Nessel and current Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
"We acknowledge that this settlement may not completely provide all that Flint needs, and that many will still feel justifiable frustration with a system and structure that at times is not adequate to fully address what has happened to people in Flint over the last six years," Whitmer said in a statement at the time.
In 2014, the water source in Flint was switched from treated water in Detroit to the Flint River in an effort to save money. The city failed to treat the water properly, which subsequently allowed excess amounts of lead to leak from old pipes into the water and flow directly into Flint homes.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there is no known safe level of lead in a child's blood. Negative health effects of drinking water with a lead presence include behavioral issues, a lower IQ, hyperactivity, slowed growth, anemia, cardiovascular effects, decreased kidney function and reproductive problems.
Flint residents have protested for years over the unsafe amounts of lead in their drinking water.
The Associated Press reported that authorities also found 90 cases of Legionnaires' disease in Genesee County, where Flint is located, which led to 12 deaths. Some experts determined the water-treatment system lacked enough chlorine to control legionella bacteria.
Former Michigan governor Rick Snyder is facing two counts of willful neglect of duty for "failing to protect the health and safety" of the city's residents. Eight others, including members of his administration, are also facing charges.
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