More than 1,700 residents of Flint, Michigan who say the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, mismanaged the water crisis that exposed thousands of children to lead poisoning have sued the U.S. government, seeking class action status for their claims.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Michigan on Monday, asserted that the EPA failed to warn them of the dangers of the toxic water or take steps to ensure that state and local authorities were addressing the crisis. The plaintiffs seek US$722 million in damages.
"This case involves a major failure on all levels of government to protect the health and safety of the public," the 30-page lawsuit claims. "Local, state and federal agencies and employees, working individually and at times in concert with each other, mismanaged this environmental catastrophe."
The water crisis erupted when tests in 2015 found high amounts of lead in blood samples taken from children in Flint, a predominantly black city of about 100,000.
Lead poisoning stunts children's cognitive development, and no level of exposure is considered safe.