The Poisoning of a city

     Like a theme out of the scenes you find in Hotel Rwanda or The Pianist; ethnic cleansing comes playing into mind, with the ongoing events at Flint Michigan. Perhaps I’m stretching overboard, but I write this with exasperation, so excuse my irascibleness. It’s been claimed to be an inadvertent error; I beg to differ and I’m unwavering in my sentiment that those who are abreast of the city’s current situation, feel the same way.

     Addressing it from the top. The water in Flint Michigan became contaminated with lead and other chemicals, after the state government decided to change its water supply source from Lake Huron water, which is treated by the Detroit water and sewerage Department (DWSD) to the more polluted and corrosive Flint River water, which is treated at the Flint water treatment plant. Exacerbating the issue, was the high level use if chlorine by the state government to treat the tainted river water; this only led to the creation of total trihalomethanes (the result of a reaction between chlorine and organic matter in water; at high levels, there are detrimental health effects such as cancer); which is at a higher deleterious level than the Federal government standard.

     So how on earth, could this have been allowed to occur, in such a massive state. Was this about saving cost? as was initially insisted upon by the Michigan governor, Snyder? Which was then later on retracted, after a contradictory report was made public. After its initial stance of cost saving, a report by Motorcity Muckraker , suggested otherwise, as Detroit offered a 50% cutback on what Flint had been paying the former for its water supply, before the switch was made; but the Snyder’s administration repeatedly declined DWSD proposal. On January 11, a press conference was held in the city hall, where the Governor apologised, with what was viewed as a belated mea culpa; “I’ve apologised for what’s going on with the state and I am responsible for state government…,” that didn’t go down well.

     Prior to this fully fledged crisis, the state government previously dismissed a report from Pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, of the increasing level of lead in Flints’s children blood; which was later on acknowledged in October 2015, despite knowing of its existence, as far back as July of last year. Dr Mona reportedly told Al-Jazeera, whilst conducting a research on the health crisis, “lead poisoning has long-term impacts. It affects your cognitive development, your intelligence and it is directly linked to violent behaviour. January 5, Flint was declared a state of emergency by governor Snyder and the National Guard was mobilized on the 16th. President Obama declared Flint a state of emergency as well, freeing up $5 million in federal aids to assist with the crisis. The public outrage towards Snyder, is on why he didn’t move swiftly. In another report, according to the dailybeast, Snyder may have known about the detriments of switching and using Flints river water as the supply source for the city; within that is an extract from former Flint public works official Howard Croft, who suggested that the official final decision came down from Snyder’s office. Was this a democide?

     A petition calling for the governor’s arrest has so far gathered 126,000 signatures, led by Michael Moore, a famous Flint resident, who, during a rally accused the government leaders of intentionally poisoning thousands. “This is a racial killing…The alarming effects of Flints’s contaminated water were immediately apparent and known to public officials…but were downplayed by political leaders for over a year,” he later on added, “they would never do this to West Bloomfield, they would never do this to Farmington Hills. Let’s call this what it us.  It’s not just a water crisis. It’s a racial crisis. It’s a poverty crisis…that’s what created this.”

     On whether this is a race and class issue, Curt Guyette, an investigative reporter for the American civil liberties union in Michigan, seem to think so, considering the appointment of emergency managers; this manager have the utmost authority to override local laws, make long lasting decisions and then just leave towards the end of their tenure, without facing any repercussions. They apparently made the decision to switch the city’s water supply from Detroit to Flints’s river; this Snyder must have been acquainted to.

     Mothers who need clean water to mix formulas for their babies, inadvertently used a chemical-filled one. Lee Anne Walkers, a local, heard her daughter scream from the shower, as her hair were falling our in chumps. Residents are living in a paranoia state, some refusing to shower. Aggravating the pain, is the water bill, which is among the highest in the United States. With calls for Governor Snyder’s resignation rapidly growing, Senator Bernie Sanders gave his opinion; “there are no excuses…the governor long ago knew about the lead in Flints’s water. He did nothing. As a result hundreds of children are poisoned. Thousands may have been exposed (to) potential brain damage from the lead.” A basic fundamental service from a government, is to provide safe and affordable water for its citizen, if it can’t do that, then what’s the point of having one.

     If the city government is now refuting claims of cost cutting, one has to wonder, what the heck the real reason was. Privatisation of the water system finances? A class action lawsuit has been filed against the Michigan state by the locals affected from the water consumption, for neglect of the Flint water crisis since its inception in April 2014. Despite Snyder’s irrelevant apologies, what has happened would have a profound adverse effect on a generation; learning difficulties et Al.  There are potentially thousands of children that could be irreparably damaged from this. With no allegiance to its people or patriotic governance, the government has created a crisis endangering the lives of the very people, it avow to protect.




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