The Stream, June 15: Flint Water Crisis Triggers Manslaughter Charges

The Global Rundown

Five officials in Michigan are being charged with involuntary manslaughter in relation to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, linked to the city’s water crisis, that killed 12 people. A U.S. federal judge has ordered a review of the environmental assessment of the Dakota Access oil pipeline. Major water agencies in California plan to make a decision on the future of the controversial Delta tunnels project by September. Thames Water, the utility serving London, could face millions of dollars in fines for its failure to address leaks. A New York community is the latest to sue manufacturers of a firefighting foam that it says has contaminated water supplies.

“Grandma died. Six months later, after bouncing between the hospital, home care and back, he passed away. Each time he went to the hospital, he’d get better, but each time he came home, he got worse.” –Megan Skidmore Cuttitta, the granddaughter of Robert Skidmore, commenting on his death in 2015 after contracting Legionnaires’ disease in Flint, Michigan. Five city and state officials were charged Wednesday with involuntary manslaughter for failing to properly inform the public about the outbreak. (The New York Times)

In context: Flint offers a merciless lesson in the political cost of deferring critical infrastructure investments and prioritizing economic concerns over the provision of clean, safe water.

By The Numbers

$10.9 million Maximum fine faced by Thames Water, the utility that supplies London, for its failure to address leaks in its distribution system. Financial Times

15 people Number in Southampton, New York who are suing the 3M manufacturing company over the contamination of their water supplies with PFOS, a chemical used in firefighting foam. A recent study found that 15 million Americans are exposed to PFOS and PFOA chemicals in their drinking water. Bloomberg

Science, Studies, And Reports

The environmental review of the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline did not “adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice,” according to a ruling issued Wednesday by a U.S. federal judge. The pipeline became a flashpoint last year over concerns about water pollution and Native American rights. Yesterday’s ruling could lead to the suspension of the line’s operation. Reuters

On The Radar

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and other major water agencies in the state will decide in September whether or not to move forward with the controversial Delta tunnels project. Proponents of the $15.5 billion project say it will improve the reliability of water supplies from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to farmers and cities in Southern California, but opponents worry it will harm the delta ecosystem. The Sacramento Bee

In context: Big water supply project creates unease in Delta.