Thursday, April 21, 2016

Criminal Charges in Flint Water Crisis

The Flint Michigan water crisis produced its first criminal charges Wednesday against state and city officials who handled the city's switch from Detroit water to the Flint River.  A sharp increase in the acidity of the municipal water supply increased the rate of corrosion in the city's antiquated lead pipe distribution system causing some residents to suffer from lead poisoning.  Officials sought to minimize the public health hazard of lead contamination and even distorted water test results.  The charges brought by the state's attorney general against two state water district officials and one city utilities manager included felony official misconduct for misleading the EPA and evidence tampering.  The attorney general felt compelled to claim the state's criminal justice system was not broken when announcing the charges against the relatively low-level "career bureaucrats", and that these charges were not the last in an ongoing investigation.  The Republican governor has received a great deal of criticism for the crisis including calls from Democratic presidential candidates to resign.  A review panel appointed by the governor lay most of the blame for the scandal on state officials.  The report said the governor's office staff adopted a "whack-a-mole" approach to dealing with persistent negative reports about the problem.  It also added that Flint's lead contamination was an example of environmental injustice in the which the poor are disproportionately impacted by pollution.  The governor has pledged to drink Flint municipal water for a month.  He did not say whether his stunt would be recorded.