The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The Flint Water Disaster

Jan 18, 2016

In Flint, Michigan a series of decisions made by emergency managers – appointed by the governor – set in motion the poisoning of thousands of children and adults.

A Flint pediatrician recently told The Guardian that an estimated 9,000 children under the age of six are in jeopardy because of contaminated water in the city. “This is an emergency. People think of disasters as being hurricanes, or tornadoes or ice storms, but this is a disaster right here in Flint that is alarming and absolutely gut-wrenching.”

It is a disaster that was man-made, driven by the search for private profit at the expense of public services and the population.

Covering Up the Danger to Children

Since April of 2014, Flint children and adults were poisoned by a series of water quality “mistakes.”

The state AND federal governments did know that the water was poisoned much earlier than they admitted, and they did everything they could to minimize the issue, or in other words, to cover it up. Government’s own records and Freedom of Information Act searches show that.

General Motors knew enough back in June of 2014 to stop using the water in the manufacture of engines for its cars. But no one in government thought to inform people who were still DRINKING this water. Why not?

The Flint pediatrician who helped expose the poisoning said, “You’d expect that utilities, states, federal agencies would take their jobs seriously and try to protect people rather than deliberately mislead, lie and make up excuses not to protect public health.

No, they didn’t because their job is to protect the profits of big corporations and the banks.

The Human Cost

Flint residents complained as soon as the switch was made to river water in late April 2014, due to its brown color, bad smell, and the skin rashes it caused. In January 2015, before lead poisoning was documented, it was determined the water was contaminated with tri-halomethanes, which can cause kidney and liver damage.

Veolia North America, a for-profit water company, was hired by Flint’s emergency manager as a “consultant” to evaluate water safety. According to Mlive.com, Veolia reported as late as February of 2015 that Flint water was safe to drink and met ALL state and federal standards!

The cost in money and human lives is staggering. The Flint mayor has estimated it may cost 1.5 billion dollars to fix the pipeline system in Flint. No one has any idea of the human cost on the health of the children affected by the lead poisoning.

In mid-2015, even the state’s own test results started showing higher lead levels in area children, but media spokespersons for the Governor and for the Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) did everything they could to cover up the results. After all this, residents were still being told by government officials the water was safe to drink!

A recent report found that an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Pneumonia happened at the time of the switch to Flint water, with 87 cases and 10 deaths!

Business as Usual

A committee of experts – hand-picked by Michigan’s Governor Snyder – is investigating how Flint’s children came to be poisoned. In a preliminary report, they found that the State of Michigan was primarily at fault. Their report explains it was the governor’s emergency managers who made the decisions that poisoned the water.

To quote a journalist covering the Flint fiasco, it is “inconceivable that nobody has gone to jail, or been impeached, or recalled from office” over the Flint disaster. No, in fact, this is little more than business as usual, filthy business as usual.

No one ever would have known about it if the determined working class residents of Flint, Michigan had not fought to protect themselves from poisoning. They were later joined and helped by experts and together, this sickening disaster has come to national attention. The fight continues.