The case has become marked by racial inequality as it has plagued a city where more than half of the population is black.
A federal judge in the United States has approved this a settlement of $ 626m for victims of the plumbing crisis in Flint, Michigan, in a case brought by tens of thousands of residents affected by the infected water.
Flint’s problems began in 2014 after the city switched its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River to cut costs. Corrosive river water led to leaks from pipes, which contaminated the drinking water and caused an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.
“The settlement reached here is a remarkable achievement for many reasons, not the least of which is that it sets out a comprehensive compensation program and timeline that is consistent for each qualifying participant,” U.S. District Judge Judith Levy said in a ruling 178 pages said. on Wednesday.
The Flint water crisis was one of the country’s worst public health crises in recent memory.
The case has become marked by racial inequality in the US, as it has plagued a city where more than half of the 100,000 inhabitants are black.
The infection has led to several lawsuits from parents who said their children show dangerously high blood levels of lead, which can cause developmental disorders. Lead can be toxic, and children are especially vulnerable.
Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged in January with two counts of intentional misconduct over the poisoning of drinking water in Flint.
Payments from the settlement approved on Wednesday will be made based on a formula that directs more money to younger plaintiffs and to those who could prove greater injury.
Michigan’s attorney general has previously said the settlement will be considered the largest in the state’s history.
“While this is a significant victory for Flint, we have a way of going to prevent Americans from being systematically poisoned in their own homes, schools and workplaces,” said Corey Stern, an attorney for the plaintiffs. a statement said after the judge’s order.
The agreement was announced in August 2020 by Attorney General Dana Nessel and Governor Gretchen Whitmer, both Democrats, who were elected in 2018 while the litigation was pending.
It makes money available to every Flint child who is exposed to the water, every adult who could show an injury, certain business owners and anyone who has paid water bills.
Flint paid $ 20m for the settlement, while McLaren Health paid $ 5m, and an engineering firm, Rowe Professional Services, paid $ 1.25m.
Flint switched back to a Detroit regional water agency in October 2015 after Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha publicly reported increased lead levels in children.