Rick Snyder, a former governor of Michigan, is facing a year in jail if convicted for his role in the Flint water crisis, which has led to the death of 12 people.
In 2014, the city changed its water use from Lake Huron to Flint River in an attempt to save millions of dollars. However, residents began reporting symptoms like hair loss, rashes, and bad taste and smell coming from the water soon after the switch. An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease followed it.
Doctors found high levels of lead in children’s blood. Apparently, the lead came from lead pipes and plumbing fixtures that were scraped into the river water, leaving nearly 100,000 residents without clean drinking water.
Snyder’s administration took one year to acknowledge the problem.
Along with the charges laid against Snyder, who pleaded not guilty, nine manslaughter charges have been levelled against the state’s former health director Nick Lyon. State prosecutors also filed indictments against seven other defendants.
The water crisis has become one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in US history. In 2016, Barack Obama announced Flint to be in the state of emergency.
In August 2020, the state of Michigan agreed to pay a settlement of $600 million to victims of the Flint water crisis. The city replaced 85% of the pipes and inspected 25,000 service lines. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has put the rest of the work on hold. Though the recent water quality tests in most areas state the water to be safe for drinking, some residents are still afraid to drink it.
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