Last week, the Flint water crisis became a criminal case when two Michigan state regulators and a city employee were charged with official misconduct, tampering with evidence, and a number of other offenses related to the lead contamination that has plagued the city’s public water supplies, reported CBS News. According to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, there are more charges coming in an effort to restore public faith in the people who are in charge of preventing disasters like the Flint water crisis.
“This is a road back to restoring faith and confidence in all Michigan families in their government.”
Schutte also promised that more charges are pending in the Flint water crisis scandal.
“That I can guarantee. No one is off the table.”
The disaster in Flint also brought cries of racism since for almost 18 months the poor, uneducated – and mostly black – residents, who total more than 100,000 people, were using water from the Flint River for tap water. This decision was a cost-saving measure made by the state-appointed emergency manager, who opted for the ill-fated fix while a new pipeline was under construction, resulting in lead being released from aging pipes and fixtures as the contaminated water flowed into homes and businesses, unbeknownst to residents.
Adding insult to injury, Michigan governor Rick Snyder – one of those in charge of ensuring the right people are in place to guarantee the safety of Flint’s water supply – didn’t even acknowledge there was a problem with lead-contaminated water in Flint until late 2015 when tests finally revealed high levels of lead in the city’s children – a development that can lead to low IQ and a whole host of other behavioral problems.
Those charged so far for their involvement in the Flint water crisis include Michael Prysby, a former district engineer with the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, along with Stephen Busch, a supervisor in the department’s Drinking Water Office. The men were both charged with misconduct, conspiracy, tampering with test results, and other misdemeanor violations of clean water laws. Simply put, this means the men are accused of failing to order the necessary anti-corrosion chemicals that need to be added to the water and coat the pipes to prevent the lead from being released. The felony charges carry a maximum of up to five years in prison.
A potent side effect to Flint's water crisis: Mental health problems https://t.co/HxChnanVNp— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 30, 2016
Flint utilities administrator Michael Glasgow, who was in charge of overseeing daily operations at the city’s water plant at the time of the crisis, was also charged last week with tampering with evidence, since he allegedly falsified lead water testing results, as well as willful neglect of duty.
Still, despite the fact that officials are promising the Flint water crisis is over and its tap water is safe to drink – even Governor Snyder publicly downed a glass– many residents are still (understandably) refusing to bathe or shower in the water, much less actually consume it, reported the Detroit Free Press.
“The public health disaster has also drawn global attention, from local officials to presidential candidates, who raised questions about how the state oversees financially distressed cities as well as ensures environmental protections for some of its most vulnerable communities.”
According to Andy Arena, a former FBI chief from Detroit who is now serving as lead investigator on the criminal investigation led by Schuette, the ongoing probe is the largest in the history of the state. Still, there are those who question the authenticity of Schuette’s probe into the Flint water crisis, since both he and Governor Snyder are members of the Republican Party, and Schuette is widely expected to make a bid for the governor’s office in 2018.
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