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

  • Engaged couple finds love -- despite a life prison sentence

    Canada News CTV News
    Pamela Grieve met the man who would become her fiancé through an online profile. Then she went on a blind date with him. Yes, nothing unusual there. But this is a very different love story. Source
  • Alta. RCMP officer charged with 2 counts of sexual assault, breach of trust

    Canada News CTV News
    EDMONTON -- An Alberta Mountie has been charged with sexual assault and other offences following an investigation by the province's police watchdog. Susan Hughson, with the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, said the allegations involve three women in separate incidents. Source
  • Venezuela court says it can take over congress' powers

    World News CTV News
    CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela's Supreme Court ruled it can take over the powers of congress in what opponents of socialist President Nicolas Maduro as well as foreign governments denounced as the latest step toward installing a dictatorship in this South American nation. Source
  • Bush on Trump speech: 'That was some weird s---'

    World News Toronto Sun
    Former President George W. Bush was throwing shade at Donald Trump at the billionaire’s inauguration. According to New York Magazine, when Trump finished his speech - loaded with terms like “American carnage” - the former commander-in-chief dropped decorum. Source
  • Lock laundry chutes: Jury comes back with 1 recommendation in Machiskinic inquest

    Canada News CBC News
    The jury for the coroner's inquest into the death of a woman who fell down a Regina hotel laundry chute has concluded her manner of death is "undetermined." That's contrary to the finding of a chief coroner, who concluded it was an accident. Source
  • Brothers who tip scales at 1,350 lbs. ready to lose weight

    World News Toronto Sun
    Two junk food-loving brothers who weigh a staggering 1,350 lbs. combined are meeting a weight-loss whiz to drop the pounds. Steven Assanti, 33, weighs 749 lbs. and was once kicked out of a hospital for ordering a pizza. Source
  • Israeli cabinet approves 1st new settlement in 2 decades

    World News CBC News
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet has approved Israel's first new settlement in two decades to compensate for the court-ordered demolition of a settler outpost. Netanyahu said late Thursday the decision passed unanimously to replace Amona, honouring a promise he made after it was destroyed earlier this year. Source
  • Officials warn about ice jam runoff causing floodwaters to rise in Manitoba

    Canada News CTV News
    WINNIPEG - Flood officials say ice jams and spring runoff are causing water to rise across much of southern Manitoba. The Red River is expected to crest in Winnipeg this weekend and officials say ice may prevent them from operating the floodway which diverts water around the capital. Source
  • Former Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum sentenced to one year in prison for corruption

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    MONTREAL — Former Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum was sentenced Thursday to one year behind bars on corruption-related charges and then promised he would emerge a better man when released. He also received two years’ probation. Applebaum, 54, was handcuffed before he addressed the court and told the judge he would be a model inmate. Source
  • Ousted South Korean president jailed over corruption allegations

    World News CBC News
    A South Korean court on Friday approved a warrant to arrest ousted president Park Geun-hye, the country's first democratically elected leader to be thrown out of office, on accusations of bribery and abuse of power. Source