Flint, MI Still Struggling to Sort Out Lead Contamination Crisis

A photo of Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha.

Image: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha | Detroit News

Somehow, despite the glaring dangers and pressing need, the city of Flint, Michigan is still in the midst of a crisis over lead in the water supply. Everyone, apparently, is dragging their feet to get Flint the help it needs, and the doctor who first discovered those high levels of lead, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, is trying to get more help by appealing to donors at the Mackinac Policy Conference.

She is especially upset that the state legislature still hasn’t approved a $128 million aid package outlined three months ago. On top of that, the federal government, bogged down by obstructionist Republicans during a contentious election cycle, has been all but useless in helping the situation. Flint needs new pipes, they need access to clean water to run through those pipes, and will need additional funds to support the educational services needed to offset the developmental problems caused by children ingesting lead.

And, of course, nobody is particularly willing to talk about the fact that Flint has the second highest African American population in Michigan, in a city that is overwhelmingly poor. While it stands to reason that finding ways to address the immediate problems might be more important than getting to the bottom of who, exactly, is to blame for all this, somebody is very much to blame.

The problems were caused by cost cutting measures to use the Flint river, which is not safe to drink, to provide the city’s water, which required so much chlorine to sterilize the water that it leached lead from the old pipe into that water. Many think it unlikely that such a failure would have happened in a richer city with a majority white population. Especially since none of the potential problems were particularly unknown, or hard to imagine. So Flint continues to struggle along, as the state and federal governments bicker and twiddle their thumbs.

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