April 22, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Flint, MI - A federal-court settlement approved Mar. 28 requires the state of Michigan to replace the pipes that caused Flint’s water supply to be contaminated with lead—and most of the work will be done by union plumbers.
The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed by Flint residents, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and others after a state-imposed switch in the city’s water source led to the contamination. It mandates that all lead and galvanized steel water pipes be replaced within three years. The city has about 6,000 water-service lines containing those metals, according to Harold Harrington, business manager of United Association Local 370—and 80% of them will be replaced by contractors using members of the plumbers’ and pipefitters’ union. Harrington told NPR after the settlement that water lines inside homes built before 1960 need to be replaced too, because they likely contain lead or galvanized steel. Local 370 members previously visited more than 4,500 homes in Flint to remove contamination-bringing pipes and ensure that people could get access to clean water. Read more