A U.S. court on Wednesday gave final approval to pay more than $ 600 million to victims of lead poisoning in Flint, one of the worst health scandals in the United States.
“The deal reached here has been a huge success for a number of reasons, one of which is establishing a consistent full compensation plan and schedule for every eligible person,” Judith Levy, a Michigan court judge, concluded.
The $ 626 million compensation deal for the victims was announced in August 2020 after 18 months of intense negotiations, largely by the state of Michigan.
As noted in the court document, these funds are primarily designed for the children of this former industrial city that has become a symbol of social injustice in the United States, but also for adults who can provide evidence of diseases related to lead pollution.
The tragedy occurred in 2014 when the governor of Michigan (then a Republican) changed the city’s water supply source to measure the economy.
The acidity of the local river, rather than the pure water coming from nearby Horan Lake, eats the polluted water and supply system pipes, exposing residents to lead poisoning. About 18,000 to 20,000 children lived in Flint during this dramatic pollution.
Although the supply system from the lake has been restored and the lead pipes have often been replaced, many of the Flint residents are still drinking bottled water today.
The lead poisoning of thousands of Flint children has been threatening catastrophic health consequences for decades. At least 12 people have died from Legionnaires disease, which is an infection caused by early water pollution.
For many, the Flint Toxic Water scandal exemplifies the “environmental racism” that operates in the United States. This phrase refers to the disproportionate exposure of African Americans to pollutants in air, water or soil.
57% of Flint’s 100,000 residents are black and a third live below the poverty line.