Jake May—The Flint Journal/MLive.com/AP
April 20, 2016

The Flint lead-poisoning disaster is simpler than it seems. Flint’s water didn’t turn toxic because of long-term neglect or because of some complicated mix of local, state and federal decisions. Flint isn’t just a symptom of some larger infrastructure problem in America (although we’ve got one).

What happened to Flint is one simple story: a city got poisoned because the state government screwed up. The state took over the city’s affairs, and then made an ignorant decision about water treatment that ruined the city’s pipes and poisoned the town.

Today residents still can’t drink straight from the tap. Still, no one delivers clean water to Flint’s residents. And the state is apparently in no rush to dig up and replace the pipes it corrupted.

Residents knew something was wrong right away, but to get anyone to listen, it took civil-engineering professor Marc Edwards blowing the whistle on lead in the water and then Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a local pediatrician, testing Flint’s kids, proving they’d been poisoned.

Up against official ignorance and indifference, Edwards and Hanna-Attisha were right, they were brave, and they were insistent.
Flint is still a crime scene, but these two caring, tough researchers are the detectives who cracked the case.

Maddow hosts The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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