Flint water crisis: Environmental Protection Agency official resigns

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- A regional director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency resigned Thursday in connection with the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and EPA chief Gina McCarthy issued an emergency order directing state and city officials to take actions to protect public health.

See Full Article

EPA said in a statement that Susan Hedman, head of the agency's regional office in Chicago whose jurisdiction includes Michigan, was stepping down Feb. 1 so it could focus "solely on the restoration of Flint's drinking water."

High levels of lead have been detected in the impoverished city's water since officials switched from the Detroit municipal system and began drawing from the Flint River as a cost-saving measure in April 2014. Some children's blood has tested positive for lead, a potent neurotoxin linked to learning disabilities, lower IQ and behavioural problems.

While much of the blame has been directed at Gov. Rick Snyder and state officials, particularly the Department of Environmental Quality, some have faulted the EPA's Region 5 office for not acting more forcefully.

The order issued Thursday acknowledges the state notified EPA officials in April 2015 that Flint was not treating the river water with additives to prevent corrosion from pipes. It says Hedman and others in the regional EPA office voiced concern to state and city officials over the next few months. But it wasn't until Oct. 16 that EPA established a task force to provide technical help -- the day Flint switched back to the Detroit water system.

"Mismanagement has plagued the region for far too long and Ms. Hedman's resignation is way overdue," said U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The EPA said McCarthy had sent a memo to all staff members establishing a policy assessing and responding to "critical public health issues."

The agency also released a letter from McCarthy to Snyder outlining terms of the emergency order, which says that city and state responses to the water crisis have failed.

The EPA "is deeply concerned by continuing delays and lack of transparency," the letter said, describing the measures as "essential to ensuring the safe operation of Flint's drinking water system and the protection of public health."

Among them: submitting plans for ensuring that Flint's water has adequate treatment, including corrosion controls; making sure city personnel are qualified to operate the water system in a way that meets federal quality standards; and creating a website where citizens can get information.

The agency also said it would begin sampling and analyzing lead levels and would make the results public.

Snyder's office released a statement saying the state would co-operate with EPA.

"As Gov. Snyder said in his State of the State Address earlier this week, government at all levels failed the people of Flint. He accepted accountability for that, and noted that federal, state, and local leaders broke the trust of the people," it said.

President Barack Obama said during a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting Thursday that about $80 million in federal funding would be sent to Michigan next week -- part of a nationwide investment in water system upgrades. It wasn't immediately clear how much would go to Flint. Obama met earlier this week with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver.

Also Thursday, Michigan officials said they still aren't certain whether there's a link between a drinking water crisis in Flint and an increase in local cases of Legionnaires' Disease.

A report by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says nine people died of the bacterial illness between June 2014 and October 2015 in Genesee County, which includes Flint. That's down from the 10 fatal cases reported earlier this month. Officials say the number was changed after they found some deaths weren't considered to have been caused by Legionnaires.

Eighty-seven Legionnaires' disease cases were confirmed between June 2014 and November 2015. About one-third of the infected people's homes received Flint water, which was found to have elevated lead levels after the city began drawing from the Flint River.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Former Trump aide Flynn may have broken law, lawmakers say

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, appeared to break U.S. law when he failed to seek permission or inform the government about accepting tens of thousands of dollars from Russian organizations after a trip there in 2015, leaders of a House committee investigating possible Russian ties with the Trump campaign said Tuesday. Source
  • Torrents of juice flood Russian town after factory accident

    World News CTV News
    MOSCOW - A flash flood of fruit juice from a beverage plant in southern Russia has flowed into a town's streets and into the River Don. The Prosecutor's Office in the Lipetsk region said in a statement that the roof of PepsiCo's Lebedyansky factory collapsed Tuesday morning, injuring two people. Source
  • Toronto man faces manslaughter charge in death of 90-year-old hospital resident

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Police have laid a manslaughter charge against a man accused of attacking a 90-year-old resident at a Toronto hospital. Investigators say the incident took place in February, when a man at Bridgepoint Health pushed another resident, who fell to the floor and struck her head. Source
  • Bidding tops $125K for Maud Lewis painting found in thrift shop

    Canada News CBC News
    The auction for a Maud Lewis painting found in a New Hamburg thrift shop is less than a week old, but with 26 bids recorded, it's already reached $125,208. The painting, entitled Portrait of Eddie Barnes and Ed Murphy, Lobster Fisherman, Bay View, N.S. Source
  • Canadian trucker arrested in Texas for fatal Montana crash

    World News CTV News
    GREAT FALLS, Mont. - A Canadian man is facing charges alleging he fled the scene of a fatal Montana crash involving a semitrailer and a minivan. The Great Falls Tribune reported Monday that Jaroglav Kleberc has been arrested in Texas and charged with negligent homicide and other crimes for the April 15 crash. Source
  • Montreal funeral parlour with reported Mafia ties hit with suspected arson

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL - A suspected case of arson at a funeral home with reported ties to a major organized crime family in Montreal is being investigated by police. Police spokesman Raphael Bergeron said today the fire caused relatively minor damage to the parlour in the Saint-Leonard borough in the north of the city. Source
  • Woman gets prison in death of man with maggot-filled wound

    World News Toronto Sun
    READING, Pa. — A woman was sentenced Tuesday to up to 10 years in prison in the death of her disabled boyfriend, whose foot wounds became severely infected and filled with maggots. Stacey Ann Cunnius, 43, pleaded no contest Tuesday in Berks County to third-degree murder and neglect of care for a dependent person, The Reading Eagle reported. Source
  • WorkSafeBC, TSB take over as RCMP wrap up probe into fatal B.C. derailment

    Canada News CTV News
    WOSS, B.C. -- An RCMP investigation into a train derailment that killed three people on northern Vancouver Island has concluded. Cpl. Janelle Shoihet confirms no criminal activity caused the derailment on April 19 in the small community of Woss. Source
  • 'Smoking gun' telegram offers evidence of Armenian genocide: professor

    World News CTV News
    A Turkish historian has unearthed a “smoking gun” telegram he says is evidence of an Armenian genocide during the First World War. After many years of trying to access crucial Ottoman Empire documents related to the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians, Taner Akcam, a history professor at Clark University in Massachusetts, finally discovered a photographic record of atelegram dated July 4, 1915. Source
  • Ivanka Trump vows to push for change for women, defends father

    World News CBC News
    Ivanka Trump pledged to push for "incremental, positive change" for women in the U.S. economy, and defended her father's attitudes toward women as she made her first international outing Tuesday as a White House adviser. Trump told an audience at a conference on women in Berlin that she's still "rather unfamiliar" with her role as first daughter and adviser. Source