Agency cites im­proper ac­tions, and an ad­min­is­tra­tor re­signs in wake of cri­sis over wa­ter in a Michi­gan town.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Mark Ber­man

An in­de­pen­dent re­view and wa­ter test­ing will be con­ducted, and the agency’s ad­min­is­tra­tor who over­saw Michi­gan re­signed in the wake of the cri­sis.

The En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency said Thurs­day evening that au­thor­i­ties in Michi­gan had failed to re­spond prop­erly to an on­go­ing cri­sis in­volv­ing lead-poi­soned wa­ter in Flint, Mich., say­ing it would be­gin test­ing the city’s wa­ter and order­ing an in­de­pen­dent re­view of what hap­pened.

In ad­di­tion, the EPA an­nounced that Su­san Hed­man, the agency’s ad­min­is­tra­tor who over­sees Michi­gan, had re­signed in the wake of the cri­sis. Hed­man of­fered her res­ig­na­tion ef­fec­tive Feb. 1 and Gina McCarthy, who heads the agency, ac­cepted it, the EPA said in a state­ment.

McCarthy wrote a let­ter to Michi­gan Repub­li­can Gov. Rick Sny­der say­ing that the EPA was “deeply con­cerned” about the re­sponse in Michi­gan. She said that there had been some progress be­ing made by city and state of­fi­cials but de­cried “in­ad­e­quate trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity” when it comes to wa­ter test­ing and other ac­tions.

Out­rage has mounted in Flint over lead that seeped into the city’s wa­ter sup­ply, an is­sue that has sparked heated crit­i­cism and ques­tions about why it took so long for lo­cal con­cerns about the wa­ter to be heeded.

A day be­fore the EPA let­ter, Sny­der re­leased 273 pages of e-mails that he said he was re­leas­ing to give res­i­dents “an­swers to your ques­tions about what we’ve done and what we’re do­ing to make this right.”

In th­ese e-mails, au­thor­i­ties in the state said they felt the is­sue was be­ing politi­cized and ques­tioned re­search show­ing el­e­vated lead ac­tiv­ity. At one point, a top aide said that state of­fi­cials felt peo­ple in Flint were try­ing to turn the is­sue “into a political foot­ball” and shift blame. A mes­sage with back­ground in­for­ma­tion from the Michi­gan Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity dis­cussing the wa­ter sit­u­a­tion ac­knowl­edged that Flint had “tremen­dous need to ad­dress its wa­ter de­liv­ery sys­tem.”

The e-mails only cover cor­re­spon­dence sent to and from Sny­der’s e-mail ad­dress re­gard­ing Flint, and so they pro­vide an in­com­plete pic­ture of how the of­fi­cial re­sponse un­folded in Michi­gan.

In April 2014, Flint stopped get­ting wa­ter from Detroit and be­gan us­ing wa­ter from the Flint River. The change was an­nounced in a news re­lease that ac­knowl­edged “lin­ger­ing un­cer­tainty about the qual­ity of the wa­ter” and sought to “dis­pel myths and pro­mote the truth about the Flint River and its vi­a­bil­ity as a res­i­den­tial wa­ter re­source,” as­sur­ing the pub­lic that the wa­ter would be tested.

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