CHICAGO (CBS) — A lawsuit has been filed against the city of Chicago, alleging an ongoing project to replace aging water mains and pipes has put people at risk of lead poisoning.
The suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court by a Chicago couple and their neighbor, alleges drinking tap water in Chicago is “like a game of Russian roulette.”
It claims, when lead service lines are disturbed – as they have been in Chicago for years as it replaces water mains – they can release lead into the water supply for weeks or months at a time; yet the city has told residents to remove the aerator screens on their faucets run the tap for 3 to 5 minutes after their homes are connected to a new water main to flush out any sediment, rust, or lead.
Attorney Steve Berman said he believes the city knew the risks caused by replacing old water mains, but chose to turn a blind eye. He alleged the city has put the health and safety of Chicagoans at risk by allowing alarming levels of lead in the water, and has failed to arm residents with any knowledge of how to avoid lead contamination.
The lawsuit seeks class action status on behalf of all Chicago residents who live in an area where water mains or meters have been replaced since Jan 1, 2008.
The plaintiffs have asked for unspecified financial damages, and the establishment of a medical monitoring program to diagnose lead poisoning. The suit also seeks an order requiring the city to replace the plaintiffs’ water service lines in full, “given that the city has interfered with t heir private property and caused damage that cannot be reversed.”