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1,700 Flint residents sue EPA over handling of contaminated water crisis

February 15th, 2017 by Dakota Software Staff

1,700 Flint residents sue EPA over handling of contaminated water crisis

Flint, Michigan, has experienced a lot of turmoil as efforts to fix serious, long-term problems related to its water supply continue. The city faced some severe issues with lead contamination after changing their potable water source from Detroit to the Flint River. The lack of appropriate and necessary corrosion safeguards meant lead pipes used to carry the water to homes and businesses leached that harmful material into the water, creating a number of serious problems.

A significant legal action
Recently tested water samples have lead levels below the threshold set by the Environmental Protection Agency, Yahoo reported. However, residents are still skeptical of the water's safety. Some continue to use bottled water and other measures, while others believe there are more issues with contamination beyond the presence of lead. City officials have encouraged the continued use of water filters as a precautionary measure. This atmosphere of uncertainty contributed to a recent decision by about 1,700 Flint residents to sue the EPA and seek class-action status for the lawsuit. The plaintiffs believe the federal environmental regulator failed to properly inform residents and ensure an effective response.

The lawsuit claims a lack of coordination and oversight on the part of the EPA and seeks damages of approximately $722 million, according to Reuters.

"This case involves a major failure on all levels of government to protect the health and safety of the public," Reuters quoted the legal filing as saying. "Local, state and federal agencies and employees, working individually and at times in concert with each other, mismanaged this environmental catastrophe."

Water Online reported the lawsuit comes shortly after a different class-action suit related to the Flint Water Crisis was dismissed in early February. That legal action involved city and state officials, including Gov. Rick Snyder.

Early legal filings are just that, and it remains to be seen if the case progresses through the legal system and if any major changes to it occur before it goes to trial and reaches a resolution. The case is notable for targeting specific issues with federal environmental regulations and the duty of the EPA in terms of informing residents in an area affected by a serious environmental issue. With the EPA already in a state of flux, this lawsuit could have a major impact on the agency if it successfully moves through the legal system.

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