More than 1,700 Flint residents are part of a class-action lawsuit that seeks more than $700 million in compensation from the US Environmental Protection Agency for personal and property damage allegedly caused during the water crisis.
The lawsuit, filed Monday, Jan. 30 in U.S. District Court, claims the EPA failed to follow agency mandates and directives after issues arose with the water and did not take emergency action until several months after it first became aware of trouble with the city’s water system.
The EPA has not yet responded to the lawsuit brought forth by former Flint resident Jan Burgess.
According to the lawsuit, an administrative claim for payment of $722.4 million in damages has been pending with the EPA since April 2016 and has neither been accepted nor denied by the agency.
The lawsuit charges the EPA with failure to take mandatory actions required by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SWDA), failing to undertake a timely investigation and failing to warn the public of environmental risks to public health.
According to the lawsuit, the EPA was made aware of the issues with Flint’s water in October 2014 after the water source was switched from Detroit to the Flint River, but failed to take steps to make sure Michigan and Flint officials were taking appropriate action to protect the public. Because of this, the agency was in violation of section 1431 of the Safe Water Drinking Act.
From the EPA website:
SDWA section 1431, 42 U.S.C. §300i gives the EPA Administrator broad authority to act to protect the health of persons in situations where there may be an imminent and substantial endangerment. Specifically, section 1431 provides that, upon receipt of information that a contaminant that is present in or likely to enter a public water system or an underground source of drinking water, or there is a threatened or potential terrorist attack or other intentional act, that may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to the health of persons, the EPA Administrator may take any action she deems necessary to protect human health.
According to MLive, EPA officials are also alleged to have violated the Federal Tort Claims Act, which allows businesses, individuals, or government entities to claim monetary damages resulting from resulting from personal injury, property damage or economic loss caused by negligent or wrongful U.S. government actions.
The damages claimed in the lawsuit on behalf of the residents include physical injury, illness, lead poisoning, dermatological disorders, loss of hair, gastrointestinal disorders and damage to the property of homeowners.
Read more at MLive.