Wait for it!

Ahimsa Porter Sumchai MD
5 min readJan 14, 2021


The Amazing Parallels Between Flint Michigan and Bayview Hunters Point

“Nothing’s changed because the water’s been making my skin itchy. You can’t drink it, too.” Amariyanna Copeny — known as Little Miss Flint — in a 2016 letter to President Barack Obama

Flint is the largest city in Michigan and birthplace of General Motors and the Flint Strike of 1936 that led to formation of the United Auto Workers. It has over 100,000 residents and is described as “one of the poorest and most dangerous cities in the United States.” The average household income is $39, 575 and 41.2% of the population lives below poverty levels. African Americans comprise 54.08% of residents.

“Many people stopped caring about Flint and Flint’s kids. Many people looked the other way. People in power made tragic and terrible choices, then collectively and ineptly tried to cover up their mistakes.” Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD — the pediatrician who, six years ago, noticed something was wrong.

On April 25, 2014, Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder appointed an emergency manager who implemented a money-saving decision to use the Flint River as a water source during construction of a pipeline from Lake Huron. The water was not properly treated and corroded the city’s aging pipes causing lead to leach into the faucets of Flint’s residents.

According to abc7 wxyz.com, ”Despite desperate pleas from residents holding jugs of discolored skunky water, Snyder and his administration took no significant action until a doctor reported elevated levels of lead in children over 18 months later.”

Timeline of Major Events of the Flint Water Crisis reveals the EPA confirmed lead levels were dangerously high in March of 2015. Governor Snyder did not acknowledge the findings until September of 2015 and failed to declare a public health emergency until January 2016.

That doctor is Michigan State University researcher and pediatrician Mona Hanna — Attisha, MD, MPH, FAAP. She serves as Director of the Michigan State University Pediatric Public Health Initiative and is recipient of the $250,000 Heinz Foundation Award in Public Policy.

Nine year old Amariyanna Copeny became the face of the lead poisoning crisis after writing to President Obama. “My mom said chances are you will be too busy with more important things, but there is a lot of people coming on these buses ( Congressional hearings on Flints water crisis were held in Washington D.C. in February 2016) and even just a meeting from you or your wife would really lift people’s spirits.
“Chinese proverb: One picture is worth ten thousand words”

Lead has an irreversible impact on brain development in the fetus and children under the age of six, causing speech and developmental delays and behavioral problems. Dr. Hannah-Attisha is the “Hidden Figure” behind the Flint Water Crisis. In the summer of 2015 she recalls the exact moment she started to realize something was wrong. She was with a high school girlfriend and drinking water expert at a social gathering in her home who said, “Mona, the water isn’t being treated properly in Flint and there’s lead in the water.”

“And that’s the moment my life changed. When I heard the word lead, it was a call to action. I respect the science of what lead does. I understand it’s a potent, irreversible neurotoxin. I also understand that lead poisoning is a form of environmental racism…that’s the moment I stopped sleeping. I stopped eating. I lost about 30 pounds. And I began the quest to find out if that lead was getting into the bodies of our children.” https://www.npr.org/2021/01/14/956705090/pediatrician-who-spotlighted-lead-in-flint-water-weighs-in-on-crisis

In the six years since she spearheaded research that detected lead levels had doubled in Flint Michigan children, Dr. Hanna — Attisha went on to establish a toxic registry to track the health of exposed children for decades and became instrumental in implementing free childcare, universal preschool, Medicaid expansion, mobile grocery stores and mental health/positive parenting programs for the children and families of Flint.

Mona Hanna-Attisha: The Will to Make a Difference. “The people of Flint knew something was wrong with their water but when they voiced their concerns they were met with indifference and ignorrance. My team and I found ourselves in the center of a public health crisis. What we found was devastating.”

Former Governor Rick Snyder has been charged with willful neglect of duty and Michigan’s former health director Nick Lyon plead not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of nine people who contracted Legionnaires disease — a bacterial infestation caused by the lack of chlorine in that drinking water. Lyon is a 1990 graduate of Yale University with a degree in Economics. Lyon is not a medical doctor and Michigan taxpayers paid $1.6 million in his defense…more than what the Michigan county spent on attorneys for every indigent defendant in 2019!

“ Former Michigan Health Director Nick Lyon’s defense has cost more than an entire year of legal services for the poor.”

After a lengthy investigation into the Flint water crisis that included 12 months of grand jury proceedings, Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy announced on January 14, 2021 “nine individuals have been indicted on a total of 41 counts related to a series of actions and inactions that created the historic injustice of the Flint Michigan Water Crisis.”

“When an entire city is victimized by the negligence and indifference of those in power, it deserves an uncompromising investigation that holds to account anyone who is criminally culpable. That is what all residents in this state are entitled to, regardless of their ZIP code. And that is what this prosecution team did. Our approach was simple — where we believed the evidence would prove a criminal charge, we sought and obtained indictments for those crimes.” Fadwa Hammoud , Solicitor General — State of Michigan


San Francisco Doctor Researches Impact of Toxic Dump on Hunters Point https://youtu.be/RF_f2nKONzA

Establishing Medical Necessity for Implementation of a Human Biomonitoring Program at the Hunters Point Shipyard — A Federal Superfund Site https://asumchai.medium.com/establishing-medical-necessity-for-implementation-of-a-human-biomonitoring-program-at-the-hunters-ca6c04a413c5

Toxic Metals Found in Shipyard Neighbors. https://sfpublicpress.org/toxic-metals-found-in-shipyard-neighbors-but-source-still-unknown/

Moratorium. Legal Legacy of Harm to the Hunters Point Community https://asumchai.medium.com/moratorium-37ff4081a398





Ahimsa Porter Sumchai MD

Founder, Director, PI - HP Biomonitoring/ Founding Chair- Radiological Committee Hunters Point Shipyard RAB 2001, Former Attending MD VA Toxic Registry & SFDPH