It's been over three years since I last posted on this blog. Originally, I started this in order to promote my favorite sport, flyball. People who play flyball sometimes are so passionate about their views that they "forget" that opinions are just opinions. They are not facts. So, I liked to poke fun when things got too serious.
But, a blog is also a public forum and I can be as serious as necessary if I believe something serious is happening. I believe that to be true today, in Flint, MI.
I have a friend who just happens to live in Flint. I grew up with Vicki Marx. We went to the same school, rode the same bus to and from school. In fact, she was in my Kindergarten class and it seems like she was always there until we graduated from high school in 1973.
Vicki's home in Flint is just a handful of blocks away from Ground Zero of the beginning of the Flint Water Crisis. Meaning that her tap water was just as contaminated with dangerously high levels of lead just like the house which triggered the crisis when tests showed toxic levels of lead in the tap water of that home.
Vicki also was diagnosed in 2014 with the early onset of Parkinson's disease which is a neurological disorder. Heavy metals, such as lead, have been linked to early onset of Parkinson's.
Since 2014 when the Flint Water Crisis was first reported, several Michigan State officials have been criminally charged in the scandal. A class-action lawsuit has been filed. But, the purpose of this post is not about fault-finding. There is plenty of blame to go around.
The purpose is to point to evidence that the crisis is NOT yet over as Governor Snyder would like the public to believe. In fact, it's my opinion that we do not know just how bad the crisis truly is. There is not enough data and not nearly enough follow up investigation into the water quality in Flint to conclude that the crisis is "nearly over".
Back to Vicki
Sometime in mid-June, Vicki woke up on the floor of her home office. She didn't know how she got there nor how long she had been there. She had somewhat of a headache and had difficulty concentrating. A lot of us would probably shrug an event like this off. Vicki tried but, without a "bright line" to draw between cause and effect and feeling simply "yucky" without a fever or other symptoms, it's hard NOT to be very concerned. She sees a doctor regularly and promised her friends and family to ask about this incident.
In addition to regular visits to the doctor, Vicki also takes advantage of monthly tests for the lead by the Michigan DEQ Lab. Two samples every month just days apart. In early June, the tests showed a lead level of about 95 ppb. (Read Parts per billion). 15 ppb is considered high enough to be "actionable" by the Federal EPA. Ideally, you shouldn't have any lead in your drinking water. Let me repeat: 0 ppb lead in drinking water is what is recommended.
06/06/2017 Lead reading was 95 ppb.
The July tests were a bit more "alarming".
07/05/2017 Lead reading was 3818 ppb
07/12/2017 Lead reading was 4138 ppb
07/11/2017 Lead reading was 7245 ppb. (All dates refer to the date of collection, NOT the date on which the DEQ lab received them.
Do you see a trend?
The sample taken on July 11 was an all time HIGH of 7245 ppb. That is 1.9 times the sample that was taken just a week earlier which tested 3818 ppb of lead. EPA considers anything above 5000 ppb of lead to be "Hazardous Waste. TOXIC! Skull and crossbones hazardous waste!
....but, there are no warning signals chiming that there's an emergency. Remember what happened in the movie "The China Syndrome" when these was a near nuclear accident? Like that movie, there should be flashing lights with chiming and sirens going off. Maybe a monotone voice repeating over and over, "WARNING: This water is TOXIC. Do not use for any purpose! Do not allow any exposure to eyes, mouth or skin! WARNING! WARNING!"
How would you feel if this was your water test in YOUR household? What would you do?
Vicki did two things.
- ) She stopped taking showers in it. Now, she uses captured rainwater for any purpose that may touch her skin. Not only does lead tainted water permeate your skin, the lead will be left behind on any surface that contaminated water touches. In other words, you cannot use it to wash your dishes or launder clothes. It will leave these surfaces covered with lead particles.
- She booked an appointment with her Doctor for a blood test. The draw was taken on 7/26/2017. The result showed 38.4 ug/dl. Translation: ANY amount over a value of 10 is considered to be too high. Such a result carries this warning with it: "Lead level is high. Quick action is required. Talk to your doctor or health department about next steps." Imagine yourself in this situation. How would you feel knowing what you know about lead in your body? ...but, the governor and other officials are claiming that the water is "safe" as long as you maintain the filters on your faucets... and you don't drink it.
What these test results tell me is that something catastrophic has happened in the water delivery system upstream from Vicki's home. It tells me that the system is eroding even though Flint has switched back to receiving it's drinking water from Detroit. The damage that has been done to Flint's water system continues unabated.
It NEEDS to be fixed NOW without any more delays!
Some pipes have been replaced but, a lot more work needs to be done. Predictions are that the entire City of Flint will have new pipes installed by 2023. 2023? Really? Can someone like Vicki wait that long?
What I can't fathom is why these results, which are so alarming because they are so dangerous, why aren't these being reported to the governor? Why isn't the MDEQ knocking on Vicki's door? Why aren't her neighbors being contacted for additional tests? Why hasn't the Army Corps of Engineers been tapped on the shoulder to lend a hand and speed things along?
I know why. This is a disaster that you just can't see happening so you don't think something is really, REALLY wrong here.
There are no cars being swallowed by flood waters. No helicopters rescuing people from rooftops. There are no flames rushing down a mountainside towards a neighborhood full of homes. No winds that have ripped off rooftops or flattened homes. Nothing that can be shown as a video on the 6 o'clock news.
It's a man-made disaster that is underground, inside peoples basements and walls. It can't be seen or heard. ....and, it's become "old news". Headlines have given way to new disasters that have much more "drama" than the Flint Water Crisis.
Do you want to see your Congressman or Senator get something done? Here are some tips on how to make get their attention:
DON'T bother with online petitions or emailing. Online contact basically gets ignored. Letters pretty much get thrown in the trash unless you have a particularly strong emotional story.
There are 2 things that activists should be doing all the time. They're by far the most effective ways to shine a light on the problem:
- The best way to be heard and get your congressperson to pay attention is to go to town hall meetings.Go to their local offices. If you're in DC, try to find a way to go to an event of theirs. Go to the "mobile offices" that their staff holds periodically ( places and times are located on each congressperson's web site). When you go, ask questions, a lot of them. Push for answers. The louder and more vocal and present you can be at those meetings, the more likely you will receive their attention...
- Those in-person events don't happen every day so, the absolute most important thing that people should be doing every day is calling.You should make 6 calls a day: 2 each (DC office and your local office) to your 2 Senators and your 1 Representative. Calls are what all the elected officials pay attention to. Every single day, the Senior Staff and the Senator get a report of the 3 most-called-about topics for that day at each of their offices (in DC and local offices), and exactly how many people said what about each of those topics.
- They're also sorted by zip code and area code.
- When it's a particular issue that single-issue-voters pay attention to (like gun control, or planned parenthood funding, etc...) they pay closer attention to the subject of your call, in this case, the Flint Water Crisis.
- When calling the DC office, ask for the Staff member in charge of whatever you're calling about ("Hi, I'd like to speak with the staffer in charge of The Flint Water Crisis or Relief for Flint, etc. please"). Local offices won't always have specific ones, but they might. If you get transferred to that person, awesome. If you don't, that's ok - ask for their name, and then just keep talking to whoever answered the phone. Don't leave a message (unless the office doesn't pick up at all - then you can..).but it's better to talk to the staffer who first answered than leave a message for the specific staffer in charge of your topic.
- Give them your zip code. They won't always ask for it, but make sure you give it to them so they can mark it down. Extra points if you live in a zip code that traditionally votes for them since they'll want to make sure they get/keep your vote.
- If you can make it personal, make it personal. "I voted for you in the last election and I'm worried/happy/whatever" or "as a single mother" or "as a white, middle-class woman," or whatever.
- Pick 1-2 specific things per day to focus on. Don't go down a whole list - they're figuring out what 1-2 topics to mark you down for on their lists, so, focus on 1-2 per day. Ideally, something that will be voted on/taken up in the next few days, but it doesn't really matter…even if there's not a vote coming up in the next week, call anyway. It's important that they just keep getting calls.
- Be clear on what you want - "I'm disappointed that the Senator..." or "I want to thank the Senator for their vote on..." or "I want the Senator to know that voting in _____ way is the wrong decision for our state because..." Don't leave any ambiguity.
- They may get to know your voice/get sick of you - it doesn't matter. The people answering the phones generally turn over every 6 weeks anyway, so even if they're really sick of you, they'll be gone in 6 weeks.
Now go get 'em!!
Michigan Department of Attorney General
Lansing OfficeG. Mennen Williams Building, 7th Floor
525 W. Ottawa St.
P.O. Box 30212
Lansing, MI 48909
Main Number: 517-373-1110
525 W. Ottawa St.
P.O. Box 30212
Lansing, MI 48909
Main Number: 517-373-1110
Environmental Coffee House Live Video/Facebook
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