A mistrial was just declared in a case to hold the world’s largest private water corporation, Veolia, liable for its role in the Flint water crisis. This marks another roadblock in the far-too-long road to justice for the people of Flint.
Veolia was being sued for professional negligence, in large part due to its failure to sound the alarm for potential lead contamination in the water supply during its contracted water quality study in Flint in early 2015. Corporate executives and employees acknowledged the potential for lead contamination in internal emails, but told the city its water was safe; at the same time Veolia was pursuing a separate, lucrative contract with the city to privatize its water system, suggesting its actions in Flint were oriented towards future profit rather than public welfare.
While the State of Michigan is suing Veolia in a separate trial, this case was brought by four Flint children who argue they have suffered injuries (including brain damage) after drinking the highly contaminated water. The disproportionate damage that lead exposure causes for children is well known and, in some cases, permanent.
Veolia has done everything in its power to escape accountability for its role in the crisis, including spinning the narrative online during the trial and bringing forward a witness to claim that the children weren’t harmed by the poisoned water. This aggressive defense was launched against children whose lives have been forever shaped by this crisis.
Quote from Nayyirah Shariff, Executive Director at Flint Rising
“Our homes, our bodies, our children’s lives are irreversibly damaged and those responsible continue to get away with it – first the state officials and now the corporations.
Veolia knew about the potential for lead contamination and failed to warn the public. In fact, they said our water was safe. It’s clear they cared more about their profits than about the health and safety of 100,000 residents. Today’s mistrial means Veolia continues to evade accountability for its role in the crisis which has caused immeasurable harm and generations of damage.
It has been eight years since our nightmare in Flint began. Justice delayed is justice denied, but we won’t give up until the corporations and state officials involved are held responsible. Black lives matter, poor lives matter, Flint lives matter, and there must be consequences to prevent this travesty from happening to another community like ours.”
Quote from Neil Gupta, Water Campaign Director at Corporate Accountability
“How much longer do the people of Flint have to fight for justice? Eight long years since the start of this crisis, which impacts thousands to this day, and not a single state or corporate actor has been held accountable. Veolia used every trick in the book to try and escape accountability in Flint, as to be expected from a transnational corporation with deep pockets and a long track record of abuse around the world.
While this mistrial is a roadblock on the far-too-long road to justice in Flint, we will continue to stand with the people of Flint and communities around the world who are rejecting Veolia, stopping water privatization in their cities, and fighting every day for their human right to safe water.”