Mich. Gov. 'Sorry' as Flint's 'Man-Made' Water Catastrophe Continues
In the latest fallout from Flint, Michigan’s public health crisis of lead poisoning its drinking water, Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday said he was “very sorry” and the state’s top environmental official resigned. One advocacy group, however, says that full accountability and transparency for this “man-made catastrophe” are still absent.
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That catastrophe began in April 2014, as the Rust Belt city was under control of an emergency manager, and it moved its water supply from the Detroit system to the Flint River without the proper corrosive controls. Lead leached from pipes, putting thousands of the city’s children at risk of brain damage from the contamination and prompting local outcry. A local pediatrician has called it an “emergency” situation that is “alarming and absolutely gut-wrenching.”
The latest developments are in response to initial findings released by a Snyder-appointed task force charged with looking into how and why the crisis came to be. The body put most of the blame on Michigan’s environmental regulatory agency.
In a letter (pdf) addressed to Snyder, Flint Water Advisory Task Force members write, in part,
The letter goes on to fault a “minimalist approach” in the Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance (ODWMA) at MDEQ “to regulatory and oversight responsibility [that] is unacceptable and simply insufficient to the task of public protection”; and states that the “agency’s response [to public concerns] was often one of aggressive dismissal, belittlement, and attempts to discredit these efforts and the individuals involved.”
It further states that the agency’s decision not to call for “optimized corrosion control treatment” as per the federal Lead and Copper rule “led directly to the contamination of the Flint water system.”
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