Hey guys, So we all like to think the lead crisis in Flint Michigan was an anomaly and wouldn’t happen again.
But that’s not true! most people don’t remember than 15 years ago, a lead crisis much, much worse happened. And it wasn’t in a small town either. It was in Washington DC - and if it can happen in DC it can happen anywhere.
So, let’s take a little trip down lead poisoning lane shall we…
In 2001, water samples from DC-area showed high lead levels. The DC Water and Sewer Authority did a fat lot of nothing about this information until late 2002, when the Washington City Paper ran an article about a resident whose water tested 18 times higher than the action level.
After the media attention, the EPA swung into action and fixed the problem by replacing the pipes.
Just kidding - they didn’t do anything.
Fast forward a year and enter, Marc Edwards, the same guy who busted Flint for their high lead levels. He happened to be investigating this spike in leaking pipes in the DC area.
Edwards test for lead in one home's water. The meter could read values up to 140 ppb. But his reading went off the meter, so he diluted the sample to ten percent of its original strength. It still blew the meter, meaning it was at least 1250 ppb,- ie the people of DC were drinking hazardous waste.
The DC Water Authority did more tests, found the problem was widespread in thousands of homes, and then.. Yeah they did nothing.
But wait it gets worse! When Seema Bhat, a water quality manager at WASA, told her superiors at the agency and at the EPA about the lead levels and warned that aggressive action was needed, she was fired.
So by now, the Water Authority had ignored tests, lied about tests, fudged numbers, and fired people who knew the truth. Thats so fucked up.
Still nothing happened until 2004 when it the lead problem became front page news - the Washington Post ran an article about the saga. After the first article appeared, obviously everyone in DC began freaking out, there were public meetings, they turned off public drinking fountains. It was all a big uproar, US Congress held not one but FOUR oversight hearings.
That girl who got fired, Seema Bhat, added fuel to the fire by sharing thousands of internal documents with journalists, proving that the DC Water authority had been trying to find a way to avoid the cost of replacing pipes, by lying about the numbers and hoping the problem went away.
Still by April 2004, some DC-area homes had reached lead levels 48,000 ppb - that’s like, 4 times hgher than the worst homes in Flint - and still nothing happened.
Now - this whole situation is totally fucked up, but at least it explains why many of our politicans are so ridiculous. Because lead attacks your brain, and the lead on capital hill was dripping with lead, so, you know… it all makes sense.
Case in point - you would think that politicians would give a shit about the contamination. But when DC asked President George W. Bush to help pay to fix the problem, Bush tried to cut the EPA's budget by almost a half-billion dollars, and decrease spending on replacing water pipes by 83 percent. Basically Dubya wanted to make sure the problem would never happen again because wed never know about it because there would be no money for testing.
The final bit of bad news? The Washington post found DC was not alone. 274 cities in America had reported unsafe lead levels between 2000 and 2004, include in New York City, Portland, Detroit, Philidelphia, Seatle, and Boston, but in almost every case, nothing had been done.
This story is super depressing because it basically shows the people paid to protect us really don’t give a shit.
But it also shows how much the public play in exposing the problem. All the science , all the tests, all the regulations - they don’t mean shit if the people don’t give a shit. It was only when the media god involved and everyone freaked out that shit began to change, a little.
So yeah, usually at the end of these videos I offer some like silver lining of hope and optimism, but yeah, i don’t have one today.
FLINT IS NO SURPRISE TO DC
MARC EDWARDS FEATURE
INVESTIGATING DC's WATER QUALITY
LEAD COULD SIGNAL NATIONAL PROBLEM
This video is presented by Jayde Lovell, produced and edited by Yohana Yoshe, at Youtube Space NYC.
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Produced by Jayde Lovell and Bec Susan Gill. ScIQ is a partner of the TYT Network.
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