The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Friday that the state of Michigan and city of Flint have not done enough to address growing concerns over extremely poor water quality and high lead levels, reported the Detroit Free Press. Specifically, the EPA cited Flint’s lack of qualified personnel at the city’s public water plant.
“Following up on the EPA’s emergency order of Jan. 21, water enforcement division Director Mark Pollins wrote state and city officials on Friday, saying that… there continued to be ‘significant issues that need immediate attention.'”
This includes ensuring that there are adequate staff levels at the Flint water treatment plant, as well as developing a comprehensive plan to ensure corrosion treatments are adequate and will prevent more lead from leaching into resident’s water via old water lines. Polllins also revealed that Flint will remain unable to switch to a new water source until plans are in place to control the corrosion and the system has obtained the necessary staffing and expertise to properly operate the plant, CNN reported.
“Having a comprehensive and interactive plan, instead of individual pieces of a strategy, is essential to protect the residents of Flint.”
The Free Press reported last week that at least 666 addresses in Flint have shown high levels of lead in their drinking water. High levels of lead have also been detected in the city – and in local children’s blood – since the city began using water from the Flint River in April of 2014. At this time, the state of Michigan did not require corrosion controls, even though federal rules called for the added oversight.
In his letter, Pollins also revealed that Michigan is looking into replacing all of the lead service lines in Flint, and that the city and state failed to ensure proper treatment drinking water, as well as failed to provide adequate daily water monitoring, since at least January of 2013, reported The Guardian.
“Warnings from state and federal officials were ignored or dismissed for nearly 18 months until desperate residents, many of whom complained of discolored water and health problems, reached out to Virginia Tech scientists, who fully illustrated the high levels of lead in the water.”
A state of emergency has been declared in Flint, a city with at least 40 percent of residents living in poverty and in April of 2014 the debt-wracked city opted to switch its water supply to the Flint River in a desperate cost-cutting measure. After the Flint Water Plant failed to treat the water property, the river water corroded existing lead pipes and leached the toxic substance into local drinking water.
A long-recognized neurotoxin, lead poisoning can lead to serious developmental problems in children, along with hair loss, nausea, vomiting and extreme fatigue in victims of any age. According to The Guardian, recent water testing by Virginia Tech showed improved lead levels compared to August of last year, but residents are still asked to use bottled water and lead filters… Despite the fact that residents of Flint pay some of the highest water bills in the U.S.
Earlier this month, the state of Michigan also released a series of emails as part of an ongoing Federal investigation into the Flint water scandal. The emails prompted a flurry of fresh speculation that Flint regulators may face criminal charges. The emails were brought to light after a public-records request was issued for Flint by advocacy group Progress Michigan, in a move that ultimately brought evidence to light that both Gov. Rick Snyder and state emergency manager Darnell Early may have purposely overlooked the deplorable state of Flint’s water quality.
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