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Elon Musk Steps Up Where Flint Government Fails

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Elon Musk Steps Up Where Flint Government Fails

Elon Musk Steps Up Where Flint Government Fails
December 05
15:57 2019

Some billionaires like to fund vaccine programs. Others prefer supporting political causes. But I admire Elon Musk for his willingness to help people solve engineering problems.

A case in point is Flint, Michigan, a town whose leaders figured they could save big bucks (to the tune of $15 million a year) by changing the municipal water supply from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the Flint River in April 2014. Unfortunately for the residents, the tap water in Flint became contaminated with lead.

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When officials tapped into the Flint River for the city’s drinking water, the strong chemicals needed to clean the water corroded the lead pipes, leaching the poisonous heavy metal into the flow. Damage from lead is irreversible.

Lead levels measured in Flint’s children under 5 doubled. In October 2015, city officials declared Flint tap water unsafe and switched the municipal water supply back to its original sources. Residents were told to use only bottled or filtered water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and bathing.

At that time, Flint residents claimed that the damage had already been done. More than 100,000 Flint adults and children had been exposed to elevated lead levels on a daily basis for a year and a half.

“When I hear my son give up at night and cry because his bones hurt and there’s nothing I can give him, there’s nothing I can do for him to take away his pain, I feel completely helpless,” said Melissa Mays in a CBS This Morning report.

The Mays drank tap water from their household faucets for five months before they learned it was tainted with toxic lead. Other Flint residents joined the Mays family to file a class action lawsuit which charged city officials with “not properly monitoring or sampling the Flint River water and delayed in notifying the public of serious safety and health risks…”

The suit also alleged that “The deliberately false denials about the safety of the Flint River water was as deadly as it was arrogant.”

On August 15, 2019, lawyers in the lead case over the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, filed a motion seeking the appointment of five lawyers and retired U.S. District Judge Layn Phillips “in contemplation of the possibility of reaching a settlement with some or all of the defendants.”

Two scientific studies conducted in 2016 proved lead contamination was present in the Flint water supply and a federal state of emergency was declared there in January 2016.

On June 30, 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) pledged some $15 million in funding for the Genesee County Healthy Start Program to provide health and social services for women, infants, and their families who had suffered from lead poisoning.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) shipped 28,000 liters (nearly 7,400 gallons) of bottled water to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan on December 14, 2015 for distribution through partner agencies to the Flint victims.

In 2016, the city of Flint began replacing its network of corrupted lead and galvanized pipes that connect homes to city water mains. As of September 3, 2019, work crews had checked about 23,000 service lines and replaced more than 9,000 of them with new copper pipes.

A city spokesperson said that an additional 5,000 lines remain unchecked, a task slated for completion by the end of the 2019 construction season.

On July 11, 2018, billionare inventor and industrialist problem-solver Elon Musk offered his support in a tweet:

“Please consider this a commitment that I will fund fixing the water in any house in Flint that has water contamination above FDA levels. No kidding.”

(For the record, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates contaminants in water rather than the Food and Drug Administration.)

After dialoging with Flint residents, Elon Musk, the Californian who created Paypal and sold it for a handsome profit to found Tesla Motors and rocket company SpaceX, and his Musk Foundation donated $480,350 to install “new ultraviolet (UV) water filtration systems for water fountains throughout all of the school buildings.”

The UV purification process removes lead and bacteria from the water. About 30,000 Flint children attend the 12 area schools.

Derek Lopez, Flint Community Schools Superintendent, said:

“The new water filtration systems will be instrumental in helping our students return to the normalcy of what should be a fundamental right: having access to safe, clean water from water fountains in their school.”

Flint Communicty School Board President Diana Wright added her grateful praise to the industrialist who stepped up where government initiatives fell short:

“On behalf of the FCS Board, we are grateful to the Musk Foundation for this donation, which will ensure that students in Flint Community Schools have access to safe drinking water at the source — in drinking fountains — by way of the same type of water filtration system used by hospitals and colleges in Flint. This incredible expression of support from the Musk Foundation, combined with the long-standing support of the Mott Foundation and other community partners, has been wonderful for our District.”

In March 2019, Musk also contributed $423,000 to provide computers to all seventh and eighth grade students at Flint Community Schools.

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  1. Rick
    Rick December 08, 20:37

    I sometimes think Mr. Musk is a kook, but this is a very noble effort he is doing for Flint, Michigan.

    Reply to this comment
  2. thinkr2
    thinkr2 December 21, 00:11

    UV does NOT remove lead or bacteria from water.
    It DOES kill bacteria IF they are exposed to the UV light for long enough.
    If the filters only use UV, the kids will still get lead poisoning. That would be a travesty.

    Reply to this comment

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