Oct 12, 2015
After one and a half years of denying that the Flint, Michigan water supply was contaminated, state and city authorities were ready to announce a public health emergency. The population was advised not to drink the water. Michigan Governor Snyder wants the City of Flint reconnected back into the Detroit water system and that he has “found” 12 million dollars to pay for it.
Last year, Snyder’s Emergency Manager Ed Kurtz decided to disconnect Flint from the Detroit water supply and to start drawing water from the Flint River. According to this “Emergency Manager”, the water was “free” and would be sufficient for water consumption until a new pipeline drawing water from Lake Huron could be built.
Ever since, the residents of Flint have been complaining about the foul taste and odor of the water, skin rashes and loss of hair – and they have been regularly ignored. Finally, in late September of this year, researchers determined that there were much higher than expected levels of lead in the blood of Flint children. These researchers were not brought in by the federal, state or local authorities who, as early as the first week of October, were still saying the water was fine. Independent researchers were found by the community.
Tests found that the number of Flint kids under the age of five years old who had above average lead levels nearly doubled city-wide, and in some cases tripled, following the connection of water services to the Flint River.
Lead poisoning compromises the immune system. It is especially harmful to the developing brain and causes permanent behavioral and learning disabilities. Lead is most harmful to pregnant and nursing women and children under six. It causes kidney damage and can interfere with the production of red blood cells.
Flint’s “Emergency Manager” disconnected GM from this poisonous water system in 2014 when the auto maker complained it was rusting newly machined parts. But this Manager of Emergencies allowed Flint’s children to go on being destroyed.
The governor, Republicans, Democrats, city and state officials are all responsible for the poisoning of the population, as are the wealthy capitalist owners of business and resources of Michigan. No doubt, the costs of constructing the new pipeline are providing this upper class with millions in profits. No doubt that the costs of the “new” pipeline, with its water intake on Lake Huron merely a stone’s throw from the existing Detroit Water and Sewerage Department site, at a projected cost of 600 million dollars, will be passed on to all Michigan tax-payers.
But the biggest cost will be borne by the children of Flint, poisoned by this criminal decision to use and keep using water known to be extremely corrosive.
And it’s not just Flint! Last summer, people in Toledo, Ohio, got sick from their drinking water. Cities like Chicago, with lead pipe systems, are a ticking time bomb.
In 2013, the American Society for Civil Engineers concluded that the U.S. would get a “D” grade in the drinking water category: most of the nation’s pipelines are “nearing the end of ... useful life.”
The deliberate negligence of U. S. capitalism toward the infrastructures we depend on – be it roads, rail, bridges, water pipes, electrical grids or gas lines – is threatening us all. Flint, a working class city abandoned by capitalism after decades of exploitation by the auto industry for super profits, may be ahead of the curve. But other cities and working class communities are awaiting their own disasters and tragedies if left in the hands of the ruling class barons and their criminal politicians.