This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Executives at one of the world’s largest utilities companies knew that families in Flint, Michigan, might be at risk of being poisoned by lead in their tap water months before the city publicly admitted the problem, according to internal company emails.
Email exchanges in February 2015 between executives at Veolia and a city contractor show some senior employees were aware that lead from the city’s pipes could be leaching into drinking water. They argued that city officials should be told to change Flint’s water supply to protect residents.
But the company never made that recommendation public. At the time, Veolia was exploring other lucrative contracts with the city.
Flint began struggling with foul-tasting, discolored water after switching to the Flint River as its supply in April 2014. Test results soon showed elevated levels of carcinogens. The water was corrosive, so it was releasing lead from pipes. The city found extraordinarily high lead levels in one resident’s water in February 2015, but residents were not made aware of the e... Read more