By AARON KATERSKY, SASHA PEZENIK and ELLA TORRES, ABC News
(DETROIT) — The state of Michigan has agreed to pay victims of the Flint water crisis $600 million as compensation, both sources and officials confirmed Friday.
The settlement would pay claims from several lawsuits that sought damages for people who suffered illnesses related to the crisis.
The majority of the settlement, about 80%, will go towards minors, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement. Settlements for children ages 6 and under amount to 64%, while 10% will go towards children ages 7 to 11 and another 5% will go towards children ages 12 to 17.
It’s estimated that tens of thousands of schoolchildren in Flint were exposed to toxic heavy metals in the city’s water.
Adults and property damages make up 15% of the settlements, while business and economic loss and relief programs make up the rest.
Some 8,000 children are believed to have some level of lead poisoning in the city, while 150 people died from Legionnaires Disease, according to ABC Detroit affiliate WXYZ.
The settlement comes six years after city and state officials allowed lead from old pipes to leak into the residents’ drinking water. Some of those pipes have still not been replaced, with the coronavirus pandemic halting the work for several months.
All owners and renters of residential property in Flint who received Flint water between April 25, 2014, and July 31, 2016, will be eligible to receive compensation. All children “who were minors in Flint at the time they were first exposed to Flint water” during that period will also be eligible.
“Providing relief for the people of Flint and resolving these long-standing legal disputes has been a top priority for me since taking office,” Nessel said. “This settlement focuses on the children and the future of Flint, and the State will do all it can to make this a step forward in the healing process for one of Michigan’s most resilient cities.”
If the settlement receives final court approval, it is likely to be the largest in Michigan state government history, according to Nessel’s office. It was not immediately clear when that final court date would occur.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said that while the settlement will not completely help the families affected and some will still feel “justifiable frustrating … ongoing efforts and today’s settlement announcement are important steps in helping all of us move forward.”
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