More than 1,700 Flint-area residents and property owners have filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the “mishandling” of the city’s water crisis in a legal action seeking more than $722.4 million in damages.
The federal agency failed to respond to an administrative claim filed last year, clearing the way for Monday’s filing in U.S. District Court. In the 30-page complaint, the plaintiffs argue the EPA “failed to follow several specific agency mandates and directives governing its conduct” over Flint’s municipal water system that became tainted with lead after corrosive river water flowed through its pipes.
Among those alleged failings, the EPA:
■Failed to immediately determine if local and state officials were taking the proper steps to address water contamination issues.
■Failed to give “advice and technical assistance” to government entities that were not in legal compliance with the the Safe Water Drinking Act and compel remedies if they were not achieved within 30 days.
“Despite notice of the danger a early as October 2014, the EPA failed to take the mandatory steps to determine that Michigan and Flint authorities were not taking appropriate action to protect the public from toxic water and failed to file the emergency … action until January 2016,” the complaint reads.
Michael Pitt, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said the $722.4 million claim is a cumulative figure representing total damages claimed for various property and health issues.
“We have people — they all have some type of injury — whether it’s a personal injury or a property damage claim, from lead poisoning to having their lives disrupted,” he said.