Is late always better than never?
In Flint, Mich., it’s a question worth asking. Seven years after officials there unleashed a public health catastrophe with decisions that led to dangerous amounts of lead seeping into the city’s drinking water, a federal judge on Wednesday finally approved a $626 million settlement to compensate the victims, according to the Washington Post.
The money will be mostly directed to people who were kids during Flint’s water crisis, the Post’s reporting says, and will close the book on many lawsuits—but not the criminal cases—brought against city and state officials.
From the Washington Post:
In early 2014, officials stopped drawing water from Lake Huron and switched to the Flint River in a bid to save money. The state failed, however, to ensure that proper corrosion-control chemicals were added to the new municipal water supply — an oversight that eventually resulted in lead seeping from the city’s aging pipes, flowing into homes and causing contamination.
The Flint crisis exposed how the country’s aging infrastructure can be a disaster, especially for the poor and people of color who tend. President Joe Biden repeatedly referenced Flint as he damn near begged Congress to pass his $1.7 trillion infrastructure plan.
Nine people, including former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder still face criminal charges related to the Flint catastrophe.
While some celebrated the settlement, not everyone is thrilled.
They believe residents should receive more compensation and those responsible for causing the Flint water crisis should be held accountable in a court of law. Former Flint Mayor Karen Weaver called the settlement “a slap in the face” to victims, who continue to face damage physically and mentally.
“This was not justice for the people of the city of Flint,” Weaver said. “The amount in this settlement does not reflect the value of the lives that have been lost in the lives that have been damaged.”
With criminal proceedings still to come, Weaver and other Flint residents could still get their wish for accountability.