Investigation Launched into Flint Water Contamination
Jan. 16, 2016 (EIRNS)—Under mounting public pressure, the Michigan Attorney General on Friday, Jan. 15, announced he was opening an investigation into the Flint water contamination. The U.S. Department of Justice and the EPA are also investigating. According to a study conducted by Virginia Tech, Michigan officials lied about the levels of lead in the water, after repeated complaints, and then moved to cover up the evidence. Already, the state has identified 43 local Flint residents who are suffering from elevated levels of lead, which can stunt brain development and cause poisoning of the nervous system. In addition, when the water supply contamination first began in 2014 and 2015, Genesee County, which includes Flint, went through a serious spike in Legionnaire’s disease, resulting in at least 10 deaths. These potential links are also being investigated.
From 2011-2015, Flint was in state receivership, and it was in April 2014 that the emergency managers, in a cost-cutting move, halted use of water from the Detroit water system and switched to the Flint River, ignoring the evidence of lead contamination.
Gov. Rick Snyder was urged by Rep. Dan Kildee to declare a state of emergency and seek Federal assistance in Sept. 2015, but Snyder waited until this month before finally seeking assistance, according to the New York Times today. On Thursday night, Jan. 14, Snyder wrote to FEMA, asking that the President declare a state of emergency and a major disaster, which would bring in FEMA personnel to provide safe water, medical support and other emergency relief—and would bring Federal funds for loans and grants to local residents and the state of Michigan.
While the White House and FEMA refused to provide any indication of when the Michigan emergency request would be acted upon, Rep. Kildee said he expected a decision “within the next couple of days.”