Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a $25,000 civil lawsuit in Genesee County Circuit Court today (June 22) that accuses two private companies of worsening [PDF] Flint’s tap water contamination.
The defendants, Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam and Veolia, were hired by the City of Flint to prepare its water treatment plant for a cost-cutting change in its water supply, from Detroit’s safe Lake Huron water to a cheaper, more polluted supply from the Flint River. The companies were also supposed to test Flint River water quality after the state’s Department of Environmental Quality found it in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2014. The attorney general’s lawsuit, which he announced in a press conference today, alleges that the companies exacerbated the lead poisoning of Flint residents through "professional negligence and fraud."
“What happened at Flint is a tragedy lawyers can’t undo,” said environmental attorney Noah Hall at the press conference. Still, as special counsel Todd Flood, who also attended, said in a statement: “I’ve been given the responsibility to seek justice in this manmade catastrophe. The people of the state of Michigan and citizens of Flint will—and should—not expect any less. This suit brings the ability to make citizens whole.”
The residents, nearly 57 percent Black and 42 percent living in poverty, are still unable to drink from their faucets. On Monday (June 20) the city issued a precautionary boil water advisory, urging some residents to boil filtered water. That’s right. Even filtered water still needs to be boiled.
Welcome to Flint.