Jackson and state leaders face lawsuit over lead in city’s drinking water


JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Jackson Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba and a prominent attorney traded jabs over a looming lawsuit about the city’s water system.

The city is being sued by people claiming the city and state officials allowed dangerous levels of lead contamination in the water. The lawsuit was filed by two local attorneys and Corey Stern, who is the lead counsel for the victims in the Flint, Michigan, water crisis.

The attorneys said they’re representing each and every child living in Jackson, who has been exposed to toxic lead in the city’s water. The lawsuit stated the city and state officials knew about lead contamination as far back as 2014 but never warned the public about it.

On Thursday, WJTV 12 News asked the mayor if Jackson’s water was safe to drink. He said the water is safe, and there isn’t any lead.

“The city has been a part of several lead tests, corrosion studies issued by the EPA, and none of those studies have revealed lead on the city’s side,” said Lumumba. “I think that all of the discussion around issues with our drinking water, and its distribution has gotten the good old lawyers a little excited. And so, I don’t see any merit in it,” said Lumumba.

WJTV 12 News also spoke with Stern on Thursday about the mayor’s comment.

“My guess is that ultimately, when the city hires counsel to represent them, they’re going to wish, and they’re going to; they’re going to tell the mayor that they wish he had not said what he said. He’s now put the city and the folks in the city in a corner. I can tell you that in Flint, Michigan, in 2014, folks told everybody in Flint the water was safe to drink, and in 2015, they told everybody the water was safe to drink. And in 2016, they said the water was safe to drink. Well, there’s 600 million reasons now why the state of Michigan was wrong about whether the water was safe to drink,” said Stern.

You can watch the full interview with Stern on Mississippi Insight, which airs Sunday, October 24 at 10:30 a.m. on WJTV 12 News.

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