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Flint families seek financial compensation for lead crisis (+video)

A federal lawsuit alleges that tens of thousands of residents of Flint, Mich., have suffered physical and economic injuries and damages as a result of exposure to lead in the city's drinking water.

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    Gov. Rick Snyder speaks after attending a Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee meeting in Flint, Mich., Feb. 26. A lawsuit stemming from Flint's lead-contaminated water was filed Monday, on behalf of the city's residents against Governor Snyder as well as other current and former government officials and corporations. The federal lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, alleges that tens of thousands of residents have suffered physical and economic injuries and damages.
    Paul Sancya/AP/File
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Citing the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Environmental Protection Agency's Lead and Copper Rule, seven families in Flint have filed a lawsuit against Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, as well as other current and former government officials and corporations.

The federal lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, alleges that tens of thousands of residents have suffered physical and economic injuries and damages as a result of exposure to lead in the city's drinking water. The families accuse officials of downplaying the severity of the contamination, and failing to take action over the dangerous levels of lead in drinking water.

Governor Snyder's spokesman Ari Adler said the administration is focused on solutions for the people of Flint, and won’t comment on pending litigation.

The suit is the latest in a tide of litigation spawned by the crisis.

In January, a series of suits were filed against Governor Rick Snyder, former Flint emergency managers Darnell Earley and Jerry Ambrose, the state Department of Environmental Quality, and the state Department of Health & Human Services.

Two recall petitions targeting Snyder over the water crisis have been approved. The latest was filed by a Flint activist and approved Monday by the Board of State Canvassers, and other recall petition, filed by a Detroit pastor, was approved last month.

The state auditor general released a report Friday, revealing that state environmental regulators made crucial errors as Flint began using a new source of new drinking water that was so corrosive it caused lead to flow from the pipes and out of residents' taps. The report says that staffers in the Department of Environmental Quality's drinking water office failed to order the city to treat its water with anti-corrosion chemicals as it switched to the Flint river in April 2014, but notes that the rules they failed to heed may not be strong enough to protect the public.

The water crisis began in 2014 when the city was cut out of Detroit’s water system, which is sourced by a treated supply from Lake Huron, and was forced to use the Flint River as a temporary source. The Flint River water was later discovered to be highly corrosive. The city’s water supply was switched back to Detroit water last October with officials later declaring a city- and countywide public health state of emergency.

The Union Labor Life Insurance Co. has committed to bring $25 million in low-cost loans to help remove lead pipes and improve water quality. The loans will be directed to the Fast Start initiative that's designed to replace all lead service lines in the city, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver announced Sunday.

This report contains materials from the Associated Press.

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