Three Officials Charged in Flint Crisis

Three Michigan officials – one who ran Flint’s water treatment plant and two from the state Department of Environmental Quality (Michigan DEQ) – have been charged with allegedly mishandling information related to the Flint water crisis.

According to court records, Mike Glasgow, a former supervisor at the Flint treatment plant who now serves as the city’s utilities administrator, is charged with tampering with evidence and willful neglect of duty as a public officer.

The other two have been identified as Stephen Busch and Mike Prysby of the Michigan DEQ.

Busch is currently on unpaid administrative leave with the department. In February 2015, Busch assured the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that Flint’s water was being properly treated for corrosion and regularly tested with no unusual results. The state now admits that Flint’s water was not being properly treated. Prysby still works with the department.

Both stand charged with two counts each of misconduct in office, tampering with evidence and violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Genesee County prosecutor David Leyton said Wednesday the next step in the process is a formal arraignment. Leyton announced further details of the charges last week with state Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Schuette said charges against the three officials are “only the beginning” of a lengthy and exhaustive investigation.

“They failed Michigan families,” he said. “Indeed, they failed us all. I don’t care where you live.”

Flint’s drinking water supply was first contaminated with lead starting in April 2014 when the city, while under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager, switched the source of supply from Lake Huron water supplied by the City of Detroit to Flint River water treated at Flint’s city treatment plant. The Michigan DEQ officials have acknowledged they made a mistake when they failed to require needed corrosion control chemicals.

As a result, lead leached from pipes and fixtures into the drinking water and tests showed lead levels spiked in the blood of some Flint children. Although the city switched back to Detroit water in October, officials say the potential for harm continues because of damage done to Flint’s water distribution infrastructure.

The Flint crisis has sparked national discussion on aging infrastructure and the need to eliminate lead service lines across the United States. A recent study published by the American Water Works Association estimates 6.1 million lead service lines remain in U.S. communities today.

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