EPA WILL INVESTIGATE ERRORS IN FLINT, MICH.
Agency cites improper actions, and an administrator resigns in wake of crisis over water in a Michigan town.
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.