Why the Big Victory in Flint May Not Be Enough

March 28th 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

A federal judge approved a deal that will require the city of Flint to replace pipes in thousands of homes, and bill the state of Michigan and the federal government. 

According to the Associated Press, lead and steel water pipes that infamously contaminated the drinking water of Flint residents will finally be replaced in 18,000 homes, with 700 residences receiving new pipes thus far. The cost of the project is estimated at $97 million. 


The court-ordered replacement comes as a result of the lawsuit filed by residents of the city represented by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan. After state-appointed managers and city officials switched the tap water source to the Flint River in 2014, the pipes began to corrode and empty lead into the water supply, poisoning residents. The residents were exposed to the contamination for months before state regulators listened to the concerns. 

"Flint proved that even while poisoned, we're not just victims," resident Melissa Mays, a plaintiff in the case said, according to the AP. "We're fighters."

Several government officials were arrested on felony charges for allegedly mishandling the disaster last year. 

People on Twitter pointed out that fixing the pipes in Flint, Michigan is long overdue. 

Although the pipe replacement project is a victory for the people of Flint, it may come too late for some of the city's most vulnerable residents. 

 A new study released on Tuesday found that lead poisoning can affect the children exposed to it much later in life. 

"It's toxic to many parts of the body, but in particular in can accumulate in the bloodstream and pass through the blood brain barrier to reach the brain," the study's lead author, Aaron Reuben, a graduate student in clinical psychology at Duke University told NPR

Reuben and other researchers followed 560 people in New Zealand from the time of their birth until adulthood at 38 years old. The researchers found that children exposed to high levels of lead had a decline in their intellectual abilities and also experienced a decrease in social mobility.  

Reuben said that the children exposed to lead in Flint, a community where 41 percent of the community lives below the poverty line, could face a life with significant obstacles. 

"In Flint and other places we know now experiencing higher lead exposures than we would like, most of these kids are starting out already disadvantaged in life," he told NPR.

RELATED: This Is What the Water in Flint, Michigan Looks Like