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Flint senator and congressman say $600 million settlement isn’t justice alone

Congressman Dan Kildee says justice for the Flint water crisis includes much more than just money from the proposed $600 million settlement.
Congressman Dan Kildee says justice for the Flint water crisis includes much more than just money from the proposed $600 million settlement.(GRAYDC)
Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 2:11 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Money alone can’t do justice for what residents endured as a result of the Flint water crisis, according to the city’s congressman and state senator.

A proposed $600 million settlement announced Thursday would end dozens of civil lawsuits filed against the state of Michigan on behalf of residents who got lead-tainted water from their taps beginning on April 25, 2014. But Congressman Dan Kildee of Flint said no dollar amount can adequately compensate residents.

He believes justice will take multiple forms, including legal action to hold government officials accountable for creating the water crisis and continuing programs to support families affected by the situation.

“Flint families deserve our continued support and we owe it to other communities to learn the lessons of the man-made crisis, so it never happens elsewhere,” Kildee said.

He introduced legislation to Congress in June that would reauthorize $50 million for the Flint Registry, which connects residents with resources to deal with health and development issues caused by lead exposure.

State Sen. Jim Ananich of Flint said the settlement represents a public acknowledgement that Flint residents, especially children, were harmed by government officials who were supposed to protect them.

“The settlement is welcome news, but I have said from the very beginning that the demand for justice will not be satisfied until every person who had a hand in poisoning my city be held legally accountable, regardless of political position or power,” he said.

Mayor Sheldon Neeley called the proposed $600 million settlement “an important step forward for our community.”

“For years, we were victims — our voices and concerns ignored as lead continued to leech into our water,” he said. “However, our community is resilient and we have persevered. Moving forward, with our strong spirit intact, we will be known as a community of victors.”

The settlement comes as Flint nears the end of a years-long process of replacing all lead and galvanized water service lines at homes across the city. As of this month, contractors have excavated 27,000 water lines to determine what they are made of and replaced 9,700 composed of lead or galvanized metal.

The remaining 17,300 homes already had copper water service lines, which are considered safe and don’t need to be replaced. Less than 10% of homes -- or about 2,500 -- still need to be excavated this fall.

Flint residents have until Sept. 18 to sign up for the water line replacement project before it ends.

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