Right now, residents in a city of 100,000 people cannot drink the water that flows from their faucets, nor can they wash themselves from the water that pours from their shower heads. Why?
Because their water supply is poisoned with lead.
An American town, Flint, Michigan, has no clean water to drink or bathe in. How did this happen? And what is the state doing for the thirsty people of Flint?
To the former, this was mostly a man-made tragedy, and to the latter, not much. Yep, the state and its officials, including its Governor, Rick Snyder, has shown a lack of urgency to help the poor people of Flint. And I don’t use the term “poor” to describe the state of their circumstances, but I use it to describe the state of their social class.
Flint, Michigan is a poor neighborhood. Is there a relevant reason to state this fact? I believe so. It is hard to imagine the horrendously slow response time officials took to inform people of the dangers in their contaminated drinking water would have been the same if Flint, Michigan were a rich neighborhood.
Nothing irks me more than child abuse, animal abuse and elderly abuse, but you can rank taking advantage of poor people or treating them as though they matter less, up there too.
If you know nothing about this, let me provide a brief synopsis.
In April, 2014 an appointed emergency manager changed the city of Flint’s water resource to the Flint River. But because of the high amount of salt in the river’s water, the city’s old pipes started to corrode, which caused high-levels of lead to poison the water supply.
Drinking lead-poisoned water can cause irreversible brain damage. Children were drinking this water.
The question, of course, is when did Governor Snyder know about the contamination to Flint’s water supply? Like a good politician, Snyder is dancing around this question, but according to The Atlantic, in July 2015, Snyder’s then chief-of-staff emailed a health department official stating frustration over the water issue in Flint and the rising “lead level studies.”
Although Snyder hasn’t been forthcoming about his personal awareness to the Flint water crisis, his chief-of-staff knew at least as early as July 2015 about a contamination in a water supply that was changed in April, 2014.
Soon, the water started to smell rancid, and GM switched their water source when it found “city water was corroding engines at the Flint factory.” (The Atlantic)
The water that was corroding car engines was the same water children were drinking – and the State and its Governor let it happen.
Children and adults started getting sick. An “environmental-engineering professor found that the water had nearly 900 times the recommended EPA limit for lead particles.” (The Atlantic) The aforementioned email about this was sent in mid-2015, but some believe the problems was known as far back as May 2014.
Yet, in Feb 2015, even after it was known by city officials that the water was testing at dangerous levels of lead, “officials were telling residents there were no threats.” (The Atlantic)
Wow… Officials told the people of Flint that the water was safe, even though the lead levels were rising. (I actually heard audio of this and it is inconceivable that a person can encourage people, including children, to drink poisoned water.)
On Jan 5, Governor Rick Snyder, finally did something for the people of Flint. He declared a state of emergency, however it was done on the same day the US Department of Justice confirmed it was investigating the Flint water crisis. What suspicious timing on the Governor’s part.
Luckily, while Snyder sat on his hands and did nothing while people in his state had no clean water to drink, strangers with kind hearts donated water. Corporations got involved donating trucks of bottled water, but the state government run by Snyder, did nothing.
It is always wonderful to see strangers helping each other, it’s good for humanity. But, what if there were no donations? What if strangers didn’t get involved? Would Snyder have let the people of his state drink from puddles before finally doing something?
I’ve been on Twitter supporting a call for Governor Snyder’s arrest. (#arrestgovsnyder) I hope in the end there is a long and arduous investigation into finding who knew what, and when. Who did nothing. And who told innocent people poisoned water was safe to drink.
Where’s Erin Brockovich when you need her?
An ex-Governor of the state I live in is currently serving a 14 year sentence for corruption. He didn’t poison anyone and he got 14 years.
How many years will Rick Snyder get when all this is over?
Below is a link to the article from The Atlantic that I referenced in my post.
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net