Michigan to pay $600 mln to Flint water crisis victims

by Reuters
Thursday, 20 August 2020 14:52 GMT

FILE PHOTO: A sign is seen next to a water dispenser at North Western high school in Flint, a city struggling with the effects of lead-poisoned drinking water, in Michigan May 4, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Image Caption and Rights Information

Most of the amount will be reportedly allocated for children who suffered from lead-tainted tapwater after officials switched city's water supply six years ago

Aug 20 (Reuters) - The U.S. state of Michigan said on Thursday that it had reached a preliminary settlement to pay $600 million to victims of the Flint water crisis, potentially closing a chapter on one of the country's worst public health crises in recent memory.

If approved, the deal would provide the bulk of the funds to children impacted by a poisoning of the water in the city of Flint and would rank as the largest settlement in the state's history, attorney general Dana Nessel said in a statement.

The settlement is the culmination of 18 months of talks over how to compensate residents who were sickened by their tapwater after state officials switched the city's water supply six years ago, sparking a crisis that garnered national attention.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who took over handling of the crisis upon taking office in 2019, acknowledged that the settlement would not solve all problems and vowed to keep allocating resources to ensure Flint's water was safe.

"What happened in Flint should never have happened," Whitmer said in recorded remarks. "The uncertainty and troubles that the people of Flint have endured is unconscionable. It is time for the state to do what it can."

The settlement is subject to approval by a federal judge in Michigan.

In January, the Supreme Court let Flint residents pursue a civil rights lawsuit that accused the city and government officials of knowingly allowing the water supply to become contaminated with lead.

Flint switched its public water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River to cut costs during a financial crisis. But the corrosive river water caused lead to leach from pipes, and the city switched back to Lake Huron water the following year.

More than 25,000 people were harmed through exposure to contaminants in Flint, including more than 5,000 children younger than 12, court records showed as of January.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru, Sebastien Malo in Montreal and Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Rosalba O'Brien)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.