Elon Musk vows to fix water in Flint homes
Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, fresh from offering rescuers of a soccer team trapped in a Thailand cave the use of his small submarine, said he is committed to another philanthropic mission, this time in Michigan.
Musk was offering on Twitter on Wednesday to fund eliminating water contamination above FDA levels in homes affected by the Flint water crisis.
Lead consumption can cause serious health problems including brain damage, especially in fetuses, infants and young children.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, not the Food and Drug Administration, oversees lead-in-water levels. About 90 sites in Flint have been testing below the federal 15 parts per billion action level for almost two years, according to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials.
Most residents in the city of 96,500 wouldn’t know the lead levels of their drinking water unless they paid to have it tested.
The city has replaced 37 percent of its estimated 18,000 lead water services lines and expects to have all of them replaced by next year.
"Please consider this a commitment that I will fund fixing the water in any house in Flint that has water contamination above FDA levels. No kidding," Musk tweeted in a reply to user @DylanSheaMusic, who challenged Musk to help get clean water to Flint.
Musk's series of tweets gained a huge response, with more than 45,000 likes and 13,000 retweets four hours after posting. He advised those requesting help to reach out by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, which he planned to create Thursday.
The tweet comes after a federal court judge said Wednesday that she would issue a written opinion in a consolidated class-action lawsuit filed against Gov. Rick Snyder and government officials in the wake of the Flint water crisis.
Several Flint residents sued in 2016, alleging a slew of government officials were responsible for switching the city's source of water to the Flint River knowing it was not treatable and would be dangerous to consume.
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver replied to Musk on Twitter, saying, “Mr. Musk, I am the Mayor of Flint. I would like to have a conversation with you about Flint’s specific needs.”
Weaver's spokeswoman Candice Mushatt said there is no further comment and they were waiting on Musk's reply.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the Flint whistleblower whose research helped expose the lead contamination crisis in the city’s water, applauded Musk's offer and added "what we really need in Flint are good jobs ... Elon Musk can help with that. He can bring good jobs to Flint, perhaps a Tesla factory."
"I would love to invite Mr. Musk to my clinic for a candid conversation — to thank him for his generosity and interest in our recovery, and most importantly to see how his creativity can put Flint on a path towards long term sustainability and viability," she said.
Twitter users questioned if any Flint homes still are being affected by the crisis, which begun in April 2014. Musk replied to one user, saying "Most houses in Flint have safe water, but they've lost faith in government test results. Some houses are still outliers."
Musk said he plans to organize a weekend in Flint to add filters to homes with issues and "hopefully fix perception of those that are actually good."
The news comes as many Flint residents are leery of drinking the water, even after the many pipes have been replaced after the crisis.