The state of Michigan has reached a settlement agreeing to pay $600 million to the victims of the Flint water crisis. Most of this money will be allocated to children in the city who were exposed to lead-contaminated water in their household pipes.
The details of this settlement will be officially announced on Friday, but according to EcoWatch, it is expected that tens of thousands of residents will be eligible for compensation, which is subject to approval by a federal judge in Michigan.
The settlement will be one of the largest in the state’s history, reports The Detroit News. “If money is how government expresses sorrow for its crimes — this is a big apology,” says Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech professor, and water expert who tested city water at Flint households and helped expose the lead contamination.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel have been in numerous negotiations over the last 18 months with lawyers representing thousands of Flint residents. The settlement is intended to resolve all legal actions against the state for its role in a disaster that made the impoverished, majority-Black city a nationwide symbol of governmental mismanagement, says AP.
The city of Flint had switched water sources back in 2014 from the city of Detroit to the Flint River to save money, but state environmental regulators had warned the city not to apply corrosion controls to the water which was contaminated with lead.
At the time, residents began to complain about discolored and foul-smelling water. Soon after that, residents reported skin rashes, but their concerns were ignored. Local pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha warned that abnormally high lead levels were appearing in children. Lead poisoning can severely harm brain development, reported The Washington Post.
While Flint resident’s water now comes from Lake Huron, many still continue to use bottled water. Researchers have assured residents there’s no longer lead in many homes, but pipe repairs still remain unfinished leaving residents skeptical to trust their water supply again.