Veolia, one of the world’s largest private water corporations, has just announced the acquisition of 29.9 percent of Suez Water, another of the planet’s largest multinationals, with a plan to gain full control at a later date. Based in France, Veolia already employs nearly 100,000 people worldwide, and this deal is set to greatly expand that. In order to get around French anti-monopoly laws, Suez will continue to operate in France, but Veolia will take over its operations around the world, including in the United States. The company’s CEO, Antoine Frérot, has presented the move as a triumph for the environment.
In 2014, the water source of the city of Flint, Michigan, was switched from Lake Huron to the untreated and polluted Flint River, tainting the city’s water supply and setting off a chain of events that led to at least 12 deaths from Legionnaires disease, as well as miscarriages, brain and developmental damage to children, and lead poisoning for the 100,000 residents of Flint. In late August, the state of Michigan offered a $600 million settlement to those affected. Activist Melissa Mays of the Flint advocacy group Water You Fighting For says that the settlement does not go far enough to compensate the residents of Flint.
The federal government can be sued for negligence in the Flint water crisis, a judge said Wednesday, citing the failure of regulators to timely act as good Samaritans and blow the whistle on lead in the water supply. The decision comes days after the state of Michigan said it’s willing to pay $600 million to settle a raft of lawsuits by Flint residents over disastrous decisions by Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency didn’t cause Flint’s water to be contaminated with lead, but it knew about high lead levels and didn’t crack down in time, U.S. District Judge Judith Levy said in an 86-page opinion.
The state of Michigan has reached a settlement agreeing to pay $600 million to the victims of the Flint water crisis. Most of this money will be allocated to children in the city who were exposed to lead-contaminated water in their household pipes. The details of this settlement will be officially announced on Friday, but according to EcoWatch, it is expected that tens of thousands of residents will be eligible for compensation, which is subject to approval by a federal judge in Michigan. The settlement will be one of the largest in the state’s history, reports The Detroit News.
Flint, MI – Leaders of the Flint water crisis prosecution team said in a statement Friday that their investigation remains on track despite an earlier warning about a looming statute of limitations deadline. April 25 will mark six years since Flint’s water source was switched to the Flint River. Michigan’s criminal law sets a statute of limitations of six years for misdemeanors and of six to 10 years for most felonies. But Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said the statute of limitations won’t be a problem for their investigation. “April 25, 2014, is a significant date in the history of the Flint Water Crisis. However, we want to correct the misconception that April 25, 2020 is the deadline to bring charges against those who may be criminally liable,” the prosecutors said in a statement.
FLINT, MI -- Executives at Veolia knew that families in Flint might be at risk of being poisoned by lead in their tap water months before the city publicly admitted the problem in 2015, according to internal company emails. Email exchanges in February 2015 between executives at Veolia, one of the world’s largest utilities companies and a city contractor at the time, show some senior employees were aware that lead from the city’s pipes could be leeching into drinking water. They argued that city officials should be told to change Flint’s water supply to protect residents.
A federal judge recently determined that residents of Flint, Michigan have the right to file lawsuits against the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to immediately intervene on their behalf. Although U.S. Judge Linda Parker stated that the EPA was aware of the lead from corrosive pipes and that Michigan regulators were lying to Flint residents, Judge Parker did not rule on the EPA’s negligence. Agreeing to temporarily switch from Detroit’s water supply to the Flint River in April 2014, residents in the city of Flint immediately noticed their tap water appeared cloudy while emitting a pungent odor.
The water, which was insufficiently treated, “leached lead from service lines and contaminated the city’s water, exposing 100,000 people,” AlterNet reported. On top of that disaster, there was an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease killing at least 12 people, which resulted in felony charges brought against many state officials. While the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality insists the lead levels are within acceptable limits today, residents don’t trust using the water in their homes. And scientists back the residents’ suspicion saying “many of the lead service lines that originally contaminated the water supply are still in use, and will not be replaced until 2020,” AlterNet reported.
Nick Lyon will stand trial for involuntary manslaughter after a Legionnaires' disease outbreak reportedly killed 12 and sickened close to 90 people in 2014 and 2015. An investigation into the Flint, Michigan water crisis pins the state’s Department of Health and Human Services director, Nick Lyon, for involuntary manslaughter after a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak reportedly killed 12 and sickened close to 90 people in 2014 and 2015. Judge David Goggins ordered Lyon stand trial for the deaths of two of the 12 victims. He is also being charged with misconduct in office. The investigation is ongoing and looks at what happened when the Flint River was used for drinking water in Flint for 18 months in 2014 and 2015. According to the Associated Press, the water was corrosive from leached lead from pipes, which ended up in the water supply and was never treated.
Nakiya Wakes sat across from me in a Flint, Mich., coffee shop on one of those cloudy, dreary days symbolic of the reeling Rust Belt city. It was March 2017, nearly two years after Wakes had the first miscarriage. After losing her first baby, she learned there was still a heartbeat—she was actually pregnant with twins, and she hadn’t yet lost her other baby. But her spirits were crushed when she miscarried again, losing the second baby. This wasn’t the last of the devastating news for Wakes. In September 2017, she learned she was again pregnant with twins. She was hopeful but cautious, feeling deep within her gut that the lead-ravaged water she’d consumed for over a year had made it difficult to carry a baby to full term. Unfortunately, her trepidation was well-founded. She went on to miscarry this set of twins. In total, Wakes lost four babies in two years.
By Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation. Mecosta, MI – Great Lakes water protector groups including U.S., Canadian, and Indigenous representatives united at the Water Is Life: Strengthening the Great Lakes Commons conference in Flint on September 29 and 30, 2017. Sixteen Water Protection organizations representing urban and rural communities from Michigan and Ontario along with local residents, Indigenous representatives and activists attended this unprecedented international summit on water justice around the Great Lakes. Attendees pledged to challenge Nestlé and end the water crises in Flint, Detroit and Indigenous nations.
By Jessica Glenzain for The Guardian - While Flint battles a water crisis, just two hours away the beverage giant pumps almost 100,000 times what an average Michigan resident uses into plastic bottles. Gina Luster bathed her child in lukewarm bottled water, emptied bottle by bottle into the tub, for months. It became a game for her seven-year-old daughter. Pop the top off a bottle, and pour it into the tub. It takes about 30 minutes for a child to fill a tub this way. Pop the top, pour it in; pop the top, pour it in. Maybe less if you can get gallon jugs. Luster lives in Flint, Michigan, and here, residents believe tap water is good for one thing: to flush the toilet. “I don’t even water my plants with it,” she said. Flint became synonymous with lead-poisoned water after government officials, looking to save money, switched the city’s water supply from Detroit city water to water from the corrosive Flint river. Once the city had switched, the number of children with elevated lead exposure doubled; residents reported unexplained rashes and losing hair. An unpublished study recently found fetal deaths in Flint increased by 58% during the crisis.
By Mnar Muhawesh for Mint Press News - MINNEAPOLIS — For almost three years, the residents of Flint, Michigan, have had poison running through their pipes. The city’s water supply has been tainted by lead and other dangerous pollutants since the city started drawing its water from the polluted Flint River in April of 2014 in an effort to cut costs in the economically depressed city. By January of 2015, city officials were ensuring their own supplies of clean bottled water. And the governor’s office was informed of the toxic water in February. But it wasn’t until October that year that residents were warned to stop consuming the city’s toxic water.
By Auditi Guha for Rewire - Karina Petri, founder of Project Flint, said grassroots organizations like hers are struggling to find a voice for residents who have given up, some of whom have gone back to using the tainted water because they no longer care about the health consequences. There’s a lot of blame to go around and still no clean water in Flint, Michigan, where four more officials were charged Tuesday for their failure to protect people from health hazards caused by contaminated drinking water, bringing the total charged this year to 13. The charges come as activists in Flint see despair setting in among residents who have lived through the public health nightmare.
By Lucy Tiven for ATTN - The order, which was issued last Thursday by U.S. District Judge David Lawson, demanded the state deliver four cases of bottled water per person every week to Flint households that lack functional, properly installed water filters, and it went into effect immediately. Wednesday's motion seeks a "stay" to prevent the order from going into effect, while attorneys for the state appeal the decision.