Federal Judge Linda Parker of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan told Flint residents that they can sue the federal government over the city’s ongoing water crisis.
On Thursday, Parker told residents that the government is not immune from being sued. Flint’s water contamination began way back in 2014 and has gone on for years as residents were provided inaccuracies regarding the safety of the city’s water. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials were made aware that residents had not been properly warned about the city’s contamination, causing residents to blame the EPA for waiting far too long to intervene in treating the lead contaminated water.
Flint residents were made aware of the issue five years ago when Virginia Tech University researchers and Hurley Medical Center in Flint showed high lead levels in both water and children’s blood.
According to MSN, Parker addressed the issue in her order on Thursday:
“These lies went on for months while the people of Flint continued to be poisoned,” Parker, an Obama appointee, wrote.
“The lead-contaminated public water supply system will affect the residents for years and likely generations to come,” Parker continued in her order. “The acts leading to the creation of the Flint Water Crisis, alleged to be rooted in lies, recklessness and profound disrespect have and will continue to produce a heinous impact for the people of Flint.”
Miguel Del Toral, a regional EPA employee, had also urged state and federal officials to take action. Parker cited him in her statement:
“They have no corrosion control treatment in place for over a year now and they have lead service lines. It’s just basic chemistry on lead solubility,” Toral wrote in an email to colleagues in mid-2015. “You will have high lead leaching into the water where you are doing nothing to mitigate that. We don’t need to drop a bowling ball off every building in every town to know that it will fall to the ground in all of these places.”
According to the EPA whistleblower, lead contamination could have easily been avoided by adding corrosion control chemicals to city water — something that was also noted to both state officials and his colleagues.