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

  • Trump era encouraging world dictators, human rights group says

    World News CTV News
    PARIS - Human Rights Watch says that new intolerance in countries like the United States is encouraging oppressive strongmen from Russia to China and Turkey. The advocacy group's annual report released Thursday says immigrant-bashing and other populist policies pose "an enormous threat" to hard-fought minority rights in democracies. Source
  • 52 people die in bus fire in Kazakhstan

    World News CTV News
    MOSCOW - Emergency officials in Kazakhstan say 52 people have died when a bus carrying them caught fire. The Emergencies Ministry of the former Soviet nation in Central Asia said Thursday's tragedy happened in the northern Aktobe region. Source
  • Grandparents shocked by reports of 13 starved grandchildren

    World News CTV News
    LOS ANGELES - The grandparents of 13 starved and tortured children say their son's family looked happy and healthy when they last visited California six years ago. Betty and James Turpin of Princeton, West Virginia say they were in shock when they learned of the arrest of their son David Turpin and his wife, Louise Turpin this week. Source
  • Serbian police arrest three Australians over US$400M cocaine haul

    World News CTV News
    CANBERRA, Australia - Three Australians have been arrested in Serbia over the second-largest cocaine haul in Australian law enforcement history, police said on Thursday. Serbian police alleged the men arrested in a Belgrade hotel foyer on Wednesday "are linked to" the discovery of 1.28 metric tons (1.41 U.S. Source
  • Texas 'Tourniquet Killer' set to be first U.S. execution in 2018

    World News CTV News
    HUNTSVILLE, Texas - A man who became known as Houston's "Tourniquet Killer" because of his signature murder technique on four female victims is set to become the nation's first prisoner executed in 2018. Texas prison officials Thursday evening are scheduled to give 55-year-old Anthony Allen Shore lethal injection for the 1992 strangling of a 21-year-old woman whose body was dumped in the drive-thru of a Dairy Queen in Houston. Source
  • Exercise? I get more than people think, Trump says

    World News CBC News
    Do not expect U.S. President Donald Trump to hit the gym, despite his doctor's orders. He gets plenty of exercise on the golf course and at the White House complex, the president told Reuters on Wednesday. Source
  • Pope wraps up Chile stop with visit to migrants

    World News CTV News
    SANTIAGO, Chile - Pope Francis wraps up his Chile visit Thursday by meeting with members of the South American nation's booming immigrant community, who are flocking to the region's strongest and most stable economy but are increasingly the focus of political and social discontent. Source
  • Student dies at University of Ottawa residence, school president says

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA - The president of the University of Ottawa says a student has died at a school residence. But in a statement posted on the university website, Jacques Fremont did not identify the student nor a cause of death. Source
  • Unifor splits with Canadian Labour Congress over workers' right to choose union

    Canada News CTV News
    The largest private sector union in Canada said Wednesday it is splitting with the Canadian Labour Congress over issues which include disagreements about the rights of workers to choose what union should represent them. In a notice posted on its website, Unifor national president Jerry Dias and Quebec director Renaud Gagne said the congress has also been less than supportive of their concern about American-based unions "trampling on the rights" of workers. Source
  • 'Fire and Fury' about Trump's White House sells big 2nd week

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury" sold more than 190,000 hardcover copies last week, the book's first full week of publication, a company which tracks the retail market told The Associated Press on Wednesday. Source