In this Wednesday, May 25, 2016 photo, Raul Garcia Jr., loads water into a van at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Flint, Mich. Officials with Our Lady of Guadalupe recognized the language and cultural barriers in January, when they started distributing supplies as well as information in English and Spanish developed with the help of government officials. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
FLINT, Michigan (AP) — Michigan’s attorney general filed a lawsuit Wednesday against two companies, saying they caused and exacerbated Flint’s lead-tainted water crisis.
Attorney General Bill Schuette filed the suit in Genesee County Circuit Court in Flint against Veolia North America and Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam. Schuette said in a news release that the companies’ “fraudulent and dangerous recommendations made a bad situation worse.”
Schuette says the companies were hired by the city.
The struggling city of nearly 100,000 has been dealing with poor water quality since switching from the Detroit system, which draws from Lake Huron, to the Flint River in April 2014. It was intended as a short-term measure to save money while another pipeline to Lake Huron was under construction.
Residents quickly complained that the water looked dirty and tasted and smelled bad. E. coli bacteria hit unsafe levels. And last September, state officials acknowledged a failure to add chemicals to limit corrosion had enabled the river water to scrape lead from aging pipes, exposing people in some homes and schools to the potent neurotoxin.
Flint was under state management at the time, leading to an apology from Gov. Rick Snyder. Flint returned to the Detroit system in October 2015. Criminal charges have already been filed against two state Department of Environmental Quality officials, while Flint’s utilities administrator pleaded no contest to willful neglect of duty, a misdemeanor.