Citizens of a central Michigan town have filed a federal class action lawsuit accusing the city government of exposing them to water with high levels of lead.

The suit was filed on behalf of four children who suffered hair loss, chronic throat problems, and other health concerns due to the City of Flint pumping the Flint River in 2014 to save money. The city of Flint broke away from Detroit’s water system last year, pending the build out of a new regional pipeline.

The water in Flint was declared an ‘emergency’ situation after residents noticed an odd smell, and taste. [1] The problem was ignored by public health officials until demonstrations began and citizens began demanding that the City of Flint plug back into Detroit’s water supply.

The lawsuit now names 14 government officials as defendants who ignored public concern over the water’s safety. Flint rejected a city council vote to reconnect to Detroit’s water earlier this year. [2] The city’s residents also say that the city knew the river water could be dangerous and that if it was not treated properly, it would leach copper and lead from the city’s pipes.

The lawsuit also alleges that despite multiple requests, citizens were exposed to water with high levels of lead for approximately 18 months, and unused anti-corrosive agent would have only cost the city $60 a day, averting health risks to the public.

Michael Steinberg, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, said in a statement that Flint’s actions were “harmful and misguided,” as well as illegal. He added:

“In their short-sighted effort to save a buck, the leaders who were supposed to be protecting Flint’s citizens instead left them exposed to dangerously high levels of lead contamination.”

The city has reconnected to Detroit’s water, but the lawsuit alleges that the damage is already done.

This article originally appeared at Natural Society.


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