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Federal lawsuit seeks to replace lead pipes in Flint Michigan

[JURIST] The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] Wednesday in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan [official website] seeking the replacement of lead water pipes in the city of Flint. The lawsuit, filed in conjunction with Concerned Pastors for Social Action, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and Flint resident Melissa Mays, seeks to force city and state officials to mediate alleged violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act [materials]. The alleged failures include improperly treating the water for corrosion, not testing tap water for lead, and inadequately notifying residents of the results of such tests. Sarah Tallman [NRDC profile], one of the filing attorneys and a litigation fellow with the conservancy group said "[t]he only way to permanently and completely fix the problem of lead in drinking water is to conduct the full replacement of the lead-containing pipes and solder in a water system."

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette [official website] announced Monday that he has appointed a former prosecutor [JURIST report] to act as Special Counsel in his investigation into the water contamination crisis in the city of Flint and that Andrew Arena, a retired Detroit FBI chief who now leads the Detroit Crime Commission [advocacy website], will also participate in the investigation. Schuette said earlier this month that he planned to investigate the water contamination crisis [JURIST report] in Flint. On the same day, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder [official website] asked President Barack Obama to issue a federal disaster declaration. Flint's drinking water supply was switched from Lake Huron water treated in Detroit to water from the Flint River treated at the Flint water treatment plant in 2014 to save money. The new supply was not treated with required corrosion control chemicals and caused lead and pathogens [report] to get into the town's water supply from pipes. Researchers from Virginia Tech concluded that lead levels were high enough to be designated as "toxic waste" [WP report]. Lead can cause mental and physical issues or death—especially in children.

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