Flint Water Crisis Timeline

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Flint Water Crisis Timeline

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Dec 15, 2015 10:51 pm

Flint Water Crisis Timeline


Flint Water Crisis: Emergency Management Law Caused 100,000 To Be Poisoned

Flint, Michigan, Declares State of Emergency Amid Lead in Drinking Water Scare

Flint, Michigan, Declares State of Emergency Over Amount of Lead in Drinking Water


The mayor of Flint, Michigan, has declared that the level of lead in the city's drinking water constitutes a state of emergency, the Washington Post writes Tuesday. The city began using the Flint River as its water source in 2014, and a September study found that the number of infants and children with above-average levels of lead in their blood has since nearly doubled:
Image
Screenshot/Flint Water Study

Mayor Karen Weaver says that the potential impact of lead poisoning on the physical and mental health of Flint children will require federal resources that can only be accessed by making the emergency declaration. (Lead has particularly damaging effects on children.) The city previously declared a "public health emergency" in October.
The city of Flint was for many decades a center of manufacturing operations for General Motors and related companies; a 2003 study called the automotive industry the "leading remaining source of lead pollution" in North America.
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Re: Flint Water Crisis Timeline

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Dec 15, 2015 11:52 pm

In Flint, Mich., there's so much lead in children's blood they've declared a state of emergency
Flint water lawsuit
Image
Flint resident Gladyes Williamson cries out to Melissa Mays, one of six plaintiffs, overwhelmed with frustration with the water issue and joy in the filing of a potential class-action lawsuit against both city and state government officials. (Jake May / AP)
Yanan Wang
Washington Post
For months, worried parents in Flint, Mich., arrived at their pediatricians' offices in droves. Holding a toddler by the hand or an infant in their arms, they all have the same question: Are their children being poisoned?

To find out, all it takes is a prick of the finger, a small letting of blood. But if the tests come back positive, the potentially severe consequences are far more difficult to discern.

That's how lead works. It leaves its mark quietly, with a virtually invisible trail. But years later, when a child shows signs of a learning disability or behavioral issues, lead's prior presence in the bloodstream suddenly becomes inescapable.

According to the World Health Organization, "lead affects children's brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioral changes such as shortening of attention span and increased antisocial behavior, and reduced educational attainment. Lead exposure also causes anemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs. The neurological and behavioral effects of lead are believed to be irreversible."

The Hurley Medical Center released a study this September that confirmed what many Flint parents had feared for over a year: The proportion of infants and children with above-average levels of lead in their blood has nearly doubled since the city switched from the Detroit water system to using the Flint River as its water source in 2014.

The crisis reached a nadir Monday night, when Flint Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency.

"The City of Flint has experienced a Manmade disaster," Weaver wrote in a declaratory statement.

The mayor, elected after her predecessor Dayne Walling experienced fallout from his administration's handling of the water problems, said in the statement that she was seeking support from the federal government to deal with the "irreversible" effects of lead exposure on the city's children. Weaver believes that these health consequences will lead to a greater need for special education and mental health services, as well as developments in the juvenile justice system.

"Do we meet the criteria (for a disaster area)? I don't know," she told Michigan Live. But Weaver doesn't think the city can receive the help it needs without alerting federal officials to the urgency of the matter.

To those living in Flint, the announcement may feel like it's been a long time coming.

Almost immediately after the city started getting its water from the Flint River in April 2014, residents began complaining about the water, which they said was cloudy in appearance and emitted a foul odor.

Since then, complications from the water coming from the Flint River have only piled up. While city and state officials initially denied that the water was unsafe, this January saw the release of a state notice informing Flint residents that their water contained unlawful levels of trihalomethanes -- a chlorine byproduct linked to cancer and other diseases -- and as a result was in noncompliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

Protesters marched to City Hall in the fierce Michigan cold, calling for officials to reconnect Flint's water to the Detroit system. The use of the Flint River was always supposed to be temporary, after all, meant to end in 2016 after a pipeline to Lake Huron's Karegnondi Water Authority is finished.

A petition lobbying for the same thing garnered 26,000 signatures.

Through continued demonstrations by Flint residents and mounting scientific evidence of the water's toxins, city and state officials offered various solutions -- from asking residents to boil their water to providing them with water filters -- in an attempt to work around the need to reconnect to the Detroit system.

That call was finally made by Gov. Rick Snyder in October. In an announcement, Snyder, R-Mich., said he had a plan for coming up with the $12 million that the switch required.

On Oct. 16, water started flowing again from Detroit to Flint.

This, too, was accompanied by the sense that it had come too late, particularly for the parents of children who may have been permanently affected.

These parents and other Flint residents filed a class-action federal lawsuit against Snyder, the state, the city and 13 other public officials in November for the damages they have suffered as a result of the lead-tainted water. The suit, which claims to represent "tens of thousands of residents," alleges that the city and state officials "deliberately deprived" them of their 14th Amendment rights by replacing formerly safe drinking water with a cheaper alternative that was known to be highly toxic.

Flint water lawsuit
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, right, and City Administrator Natasha Henderson address questions about adding supplemental phosphates to the city's water during a news conference, at City Hall in Flint, Mich. (Jake May / AP)
"For more than 18 months, state and local government officials ignored irrefutable evidence that the water pumped from the Flint River exposed the Plaintiffs and the Plaintiff Class to extreme toxicity," the complaint reads. "The deliberately false denials about the safety of the Flint River water was as deadly as it was arrogant."

Calling officials' conduct "so egregious and so outrageous that it shocks the conscience," the complaint cites the specific experiences of a few plaintiffs and their families, all of whom allege they have been challenged by similar health ailments since high levels of lead and copper entered their bloodstreams.

These conditions include skin lesions, hair loss, chemical-induced hypertension, vision loss and depression. Of the four families described in the complaint, two had ceased to drink Flint water after a certain point -- and used it only for washing and cooking -- but still said they were exposed to many of the same ill effects.

As the Detroit Free Press reported this October, avoiding Flint water became a way of life for the city's residents.

Those who could afford it opted for bottled water, buying it by the gallons. Those who couldn't spare the money drank it straight from the tap all the same, knowing that they would be paying for it later. When it came to bathing, some slowly filled bathtubs with pots of boiled water for their children.

LeeAnn Walters, a Flint resident and mother of 4-year-old twins, took every precaution after blood tests revealed that one of her son's lead levels had soared following the switch to Flint River.

"I was hysterical," Walters told the Free Press. "I cried when they gave me my first lead report."

She had feared lead was the problem after her whole family developed rashes, and her son stopped gaining weight.

Now, Walters said, when her children experience problems as they grow up, she will always wonder if things would have been different -- if their lives would have been better -- if it weren't for that lead-tainted water.
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Re: Flint Water Crisis Timeline

Postby Pele'sDaughter » Fri Dec 18, 2015 11:46 am

https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/ ... arch_team/

1081
FlintWaterStudy, the independent research team from Virginia Tech that is working as part of a larger coalition to help resolve the uncertainties associated with the drinking water crisis in Flint, MI, will answer your questions. Ask us anything!
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Re: Flint Water Crisis Timeline

Postby JackRiddler » Fri Dec 18, 2015 12:05 pm

FLINT, MICHIGAN, AN ENTIRE AMERICAN CITY, HAS BEEN POISONED BY LEAD IN THE DRINKING WATER. WHY ARE YOU NOT READING ABOUT THIS ELSEWHERE? IS THIS GOING TO BE ON THE NETWORK NEWS TONIGHT?

In recent months the population of Flint, Michigan has been subjected to massive levels of poisoning by lead and other toxins through their tap water. Predictably with lead poisoning, this has especially damaged the physical and mental health of exposed children. Why did this happen? Many municipalities in Michigan went bankrupt after 2008, partly because of the decline in revenues caused by the statewide depression after the Wall Street crash, but also thanks to naive municipal authorities entering into Wall Street scams and big-bank "advice" and high charges on municipal bond management. A few years ago the Republican (Tea Party) governor thereupon declared a financial emergency and directly appointed unelected managers as de facto dictators over many municipalities, including Flint and Detroit. The new Flint boss ruled that Flint could no longer afford to draw (clean) water from the Detroit system, and ordered that the Flint water system draw instead from the Flint River (known to be highly contaminated from a century of auto production). The people were poisoned. The symptoms became manifest. People organized in protest. The municipal authorities denied, denied, denied. After the return to "democracy," the newly-elected mayor has declared a state of emergency in the city.

How much coverage will you see of this on the ABCBSCNNBC Nightly Trump-Related News? Will there be a federal investigation? Trials? Aid to the affected? Will presidential candidates visit Flint, Michigan? Click to listen to the coverage today on Democracy Now (possibly the only approximation of a daily news program in the United States).
http://www.democracynow.org/2015/12/17/ ... _money_and

New York Times has no story, only one from AP comes up in a search:
http://query.nytimes.com/search/sitesea ... age#/flint
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Re: Flint Water Crisis Timeline

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Dec 23, 2015 1:58 am

Virginia Tech researcher accuses state health officials of "hiding" data on Flint's water
By STEVE CARMODY & REBECCA WILLIAMS • DEC 21, 2015

Listen Listening...4:00 Marc Edwards, PhD, talks about the new documents obtained by the Freedom of Information Act.
Updated 10:30 p.m.

Virginia Tech researchers accuse Michigan health officials of trying to “stonewall” the investigation into lead in Flint’s drinking water.


Dr. Marc Edwards, of Virginia Tech University, seen here showing the difference in the corrosiveness of Flint River water vs Detroit water
CREDIT STEVE CARMODY / MICHIGAN RADIO
The documents, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, are available online.

Marc Edwards says newly obtained internal documents show Department of Health and Human Services employees tried to hide evidence that matched the increased lead levels in children found by doctors at Hurley Medical Center.

“There are emails that show they reproduced the Hurley analysis very early on, and in a document they said is not to be distributed to the public, they noted they found the same thing as Hurley but they didn’t tell anyone,” says Edwards.


An email from a Michigan Department of Community Health data analyst on July 28, 2015, discussing blood lead level results in children in Flint in the summer of 2014.
CREDIT FOIA FROM VIRGINIA TECH / FLINT WATER STUDY
Edwards says state health department officials were following the lead of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in the handling of Flint’s water crisis.

"The health department stayed silent even as MDEQ was telling reporters that the blood lead data was showing no spike whatsoever. We now have a document from July that was sent to the governor's office and the director of the health department that showed that in 2014 that children's blood lead had spiked in the summer," says Edwards.


A report prepared in late July 2015 by a state health department employee shows three months in 2014 when kids' blood lead levels spiked in Flint. From documents obtained by FOIA by Virginia Tech.
CREDIT FOIA FROM VIRGINIA TECH / FLINT WATER STUDY
The MDEQ initially downplayed the importance of the data from Virginia Tech and Hurley Medical Center.

The data suggested elevated lead levels, in the drinking water of some Flint homes and the blood of Flint children, could be linked to the city’s switch from Detroit water to the Flint River in April, 2014. Researchers claim the corrosive nature of the river and a lack of treatment resulted in damage to pipes, which then started leaching lead into the drinking water.

This excerpt from an email shows the state health department turning to DEQ for some guidance:


An email from MDCH's Mikelle Robinson describing a call with the MDEQ on September 23, 2015. (Emphasis added by Virginia Tech)
CREDIT FOIA FROM VIRGINIA TECH / FLINT WATER STUDY
There is no safe level of lead. Exposure to lead can have serious health effects, especially in young children.

In September, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha at Hurley Medical Center announced the results of her research – that the percentage of kids with elevated lead levels in Flint nearly doubled after the switch to the Flint River. But state health department officials tried to discredit her – even though we now know their own data agreed with Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s findings. The health department later said their data was in agreement with Hanna-Attisha's.


An email from Dave Murray (at the time he was Deputy Press Secretary for Governor Rick Snyder), to MDEQ and MDCH employees, and others, on September 24, 2015. Emphasis added by Virginia Tech.
CREDIT FOIA FROM VIRGINIA TECH / FLINT WATER STUDY
The Department of Health and Human Services issued a written statement this afternoon defending the agency's handling of the blood lead level data. In the statement, the agency insists it "consistently provided information regarding blood lead levels in the city of Flint."

When initially looking at the citywide and county elevated blood lead level numbers, the increase appeared to be consistent with the routine seasonal fluctuation seen in the summer months. It wasn’t until the Hurley report came out that our epidemiologists took a more in-depth look at the data by ZIP code, controlling for seasonal variation, and confirmed an increase outside of normal trends. As a result of this process, we have determined that the way we analyze data needs to be thoroughly reviewed. Additionally, Gov. Rick Snyder has created a Flint Water Task Force to review all city, state and federal responses and actions and is expected to make recommendations moving forward.
The statement went on to say DHHS will continue to work to ensure "appropriate case management and follow up is occurring in Flint."

After 18 months, the city switched back to Detroit water in October. However, there is still concern lead may continue to be a problem, and Flint residents are advised to continue using filters or drink only bottled water.
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Re: Flint Water Crisis Timeline

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Dec 31, 2015 2:41 pm

Governor Rick Snyder 'very sorry' about Flint water lead levels debacle
Snyder apologizes on Tuesday for decisions that caused the Michigan city’s water supply to be poisoned by lead as top state environment official resigns
Flint Michigan contaminated drinking water lead Rick Snyder
‘I want all Michigan citizens to know that we will learn from this experience,’ says the state’s governor, Rick Snyder. Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via
Ryan Felton in Detroit
@ryanfelton13
Wednesday 30 December 2015 08.54 EST Last modified on Wednesday 30 December 2015 09.23 EST

Michigan governor Rick Snyder apologized on Tuesday for the debacle that caused the city of Flint’s water supply to be poisoned by lead, while the top state environment official resigned in light of a report that chiefly placed the blame for the crisis on his department.

The resignation was the latest in the crisis that has consumed the city of 100,000, as local doctors have warned in recent weeks that contaminated drinking water flowing from household taps may have affected more residents than originally thought.


Flint's 'toxic soup' polluted water worse for children than thought, doctor says

In a statement issued Tuesday, Snyder said the resignation of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality director (MDEQ) Dan Wyant was “appropriate to accept”, but he added that changes in leadership won’t be enough.

“I understand there can be disagreements within the scientific community,” Snyder said. “That is why I have directed both the departments of environmental quality and health and human services to invite every external scientist who has worked on this issue to be our partners in helping us to improve Flint water.”

The governor also apologized for the pollution problems, in what appears to be the first instance he has directly offered an expression of regret since the crisis arose several months ago.

“I want the Flint community to know how very sorry I am that this has happened,” he said. “And I want all Michigan citizens to know that we will learn from this experience, because Flint is not the only city that has an aging infrastructure.”

Flint has been embroiled in a never-ending stream of water quality issues that began in April 2014, when the city started pulling water from a local river as a cost-saving measure. The switch took place while Flint was operated by a state-appointed emergency manager, who held vast powers to oversee day-to-day operations, as the Rust Belt city was buckling under financial straits.

Residents immediately raised concerns about water that was suddenly cloudy, odorus and tasted rancid. Within months, General Motors had stopped using Flint water at a local engine plant because it was rusting machine parts. Initial tests also revealed elevated levels of chemical compounds in the water supply that can lead to liver or kidney issues.

Nonetheless, state environmental officials downplayed residents’ complaints and vehemently disputed local studies that found a link between elevated blood-lead levels among children and the water source switch, until, in October, Snyder conceded the situation had become a “public safety issue” and announced a $12m plan to transfer Flint back to its previous supply with the city of Detroit.

It was the lackadaisical approach by the MDEQ in addressing the crisis – from failing to properly treat the Flint river to officials belittling responses to public outcry – that bears the “primary responsibility for what happened in Flint” and must be held accountable, a Snyder-appointed task force said on Tuesday in a three-page report of interim findings.

The task force was created by Snyder to review what caused the situation and issue future recommendations. Along with Wyant, the environmental department’s spokesperson, Brad Wurfel, also resigned on Tuesday – saying he’s “particularly satisfied” with how he has “trained department staff to better communicate with the public and the press, and other departments”.

The Flint River flows through downtown Flint, Michigan, on 16 December 2015.
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The Flint river flows through downtown Flint, Michigan, on 16 December. Photograph: Rebecca Cook/Reuters
According to the task force’s report, the department’s communication with the public often left much to be desired. The typical response offered by Wurfel and the agency on concerns about Flint’s water, the task force said, was “one of aggressive dismissal, belittlement, and attempts to discredit” independent studies.

“We find both the tone and substance of many MDEQ public statements to be completely unacceptable,” the task force said. “In a real way, the MDEQ represents the public, including the very individuals it treated dismissively and disrespectfully in public statements.”

The reported continued: “What is disturbing about MDEQ’s responses … is their persistent tone of scorn and derision. In fact, the MDEQ seems to have been more determined to discredit the work of others – who ultimately proved to be right – than to pursue its own oversight responsibility.”


'We were paying to poison our kids': lead in Michigan city's water hits children

Snyder said Tuesday that he also plans to meet with Flint mayor Karen Weaver to discuss additional measures the state can take to offer assistance. Earlier this month, Weaver declared a state of emergency over the contaminated water supply, which comes amid calls for a criminal investigation and a pending class-action lawsuit.

Following the switch to the Flint River, researchers had found the proportion of children who experienced elevated blood-lead levels had spiked from 2.1% to 4%. In some areas, the number increased to as high as 6.3%, with blood lead levels above five micrograms per deciliter – an amount described officially as a public health concern. An earlier study, conducted by researchers from Virginia Tech, a group of citizen volunteers and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, found that water in 10% of homes it tested in the city had 25 parts per billion of lead, far exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency’s action level of 15 parts per billion.

Low-level exposure of lead can produce long-term health effects, particularly in young children, in the form of behavioral problems and learning disabilities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no safe level of lead exposure.

State lawmakers praised the announcement from Snyder on Tuesday.

“If these personnel moves and change in tone lead to a more aggressive response and resources to improve public health, then we are finally making progress,” said state senate minority leader Jim Ananich in a statement. “I still believe that legislative hearings will be required to get all the answers and help shape the necessary policy changes, and ensure this never happens again.”

Despite Snyder’s remarks and the shakeup at MDEQ, the task force said Tuesday that establishing responsibility is a “critical and urgent need” that shouldn’t wait until its final report is released next year.

“The city of Flint’s water customers … deserve a commitment to properly assess responsibility and ensure accountability,” the report said. “They also deserve a commitment to needed mitigation in both the short and long term.”

The task force didn’t mince words in the report’s conclusion:

“The Flint water crisis never should have happened. Having failed to prevent it, state government should coordinate a sustained public-health focused response to remedy, to the fullest extent possible, the impacts on the Flint community.”
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Re: Flint Water Crisis Timeline

Postby JackRiddler » Thu Dec 31, 2015 3:26 pm

"Debacle." Fiasco, clusterfuck, controversy, scandal. Any word other than straight up murder - fine, negligent homicide, witting-willful etc.

Bush Debacle in Iraq!

Hitler Debacle on Eastern Front!
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Re: Flint Water Crisis Timeline

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Jan 07, 2016 1:40 pm

Water crisis in Flint, Michigan, draws federal investigation



Flint mayor: Water fix could cost as much as $1.5B
Chad Livengood, Detroit News Lansing Bureau 12:08 p.m. EST January 7, 2016
IMG_0035Buy Photo
(Photo: Chad Livengood / The Detroit News)

Lansing — Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said Thursday replacing her city’s myriad of lead-leaching water pipes could cost as much as $1.5 billion by one estimate.

“We have not done a final assessment of that,” Weaver said Thursday after a closed-door meeting with Gov. Rick Snyder at his Lansing office. “We’ve heard from millions up to $1.5 billion. We’re doing assessments right now to see what it’s going to cost.”

Hoping to establish “a very close partnership,” Snyder met Thursday morning with Weaver to discuss the city’s on-going lead contaminated drinking water crisis two days after declaring a state of emergency in Genesee County.

The Republican governor said he and Weaver had a “thoughtful discussion” about addressing the city’s water crisis.

“We’re going to continue on the path of taking positive actions to deal with this difficult issue, to do the best we can going forward,” Snyder told reporters in a joint appearance before the media with the Flint mayor.


Gov. Rick Snyder met Thursday morning with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver to discuss the city’s ongoing lead contaminated water crisis two days after declaring a state of emergency in Genesee County.

Snyder and Weaver agreed to set up an inter-governmental agency group to work in conjunction with the State Emergency Operations Center, which was activated Tuesday when Snyder issued his emergency declaration over the safety of Flint’s drinking water supply.

Flint officials have been seeking forgivable loans from the state and federal government to replace lead-leaching water service pipes linked to elevated lead levels in the blood of some Flint children and adults.

But the looming issue is what will it cost to replace up to 500 miles of underground, 75-year-old iron pipe in Flint that may have been damaged by the flow of the corrosive Flint River water through private and public service lines to about 33,000 homes.

“This is the next infrastructure challenge for the state of Michigan. The governor’s very aware of that,” said Harvey Hollins III, director of Snyder’s Office of Urban and Metropolitan Initiatives.

Snyder has tapped Hollins to be his point person between state agencies and Flint as they work to address elevated levels of lead in the city’s water system. Discussions are underway to create a new “funding mechanisms” to help Flint and other older urban cities replace aging infrastructure, Hollins said.

“This problem has been exacerbated by the most recent issue that the governor has declared a crisis, so we have to fix that,” he told reporters. “This is a fix that’s going to happen over time, not tomorrow.”

In the short term, Snyder vowed Thursday that state agencies would “take tangible measures to improve the water situation in Flint, both in terms of more testing, more filters, long-term solutions, better follow-up health care for the affected individuals, looking at education opportunities.”

The governor said the state would provide a “broad-based suite of services to improve things in Flint for this unfortunate situation that I do apologize for, with respect to our role in this issue.”

Snyder promised to meet with Weaver last week after, for the first time, publicly apologizing for the state Department of Environmental Quality’s mishandling of Flint’s switch to Flint River’s corrosive water that caused lead to leach from the city’s aging pipelines.

“This has been a very productive, positive meeting,” Weaver told reporters. “... This is a partnership, and we’re going to be looking at how we move Flint forward.”

A Snyder-appointed emergency manager was in charge of Flint in April 2014 when the city temporarily switched water supplies from Detroit’s water system to save money while a new regional water pipeline is constructed.

Shortly after Flint switched water supplies, residents began complaining about the strange color, smell and taste of the Flint River water. State officials have admitted the DEQ failed to require Flint to add corrosion controlling agents to the water to prevent lead pipes from leaching the harmful chemical element into the drinking water supply.

“This is a situation that no one wished would have ever happened, but it has happened, and we want to be open and honest and say, ‘Let’s address it, proactively. Let’s go after the issues both in terms of solving what historically what damage has been done, but also being proactive to prevent future damage and then to do good follow-up to say how we can help people who may have higher lead levels,’” Snyder said.

“We’re taking this extremely seriously.”

In October, Snyder worked with Weaver’s predecessor, Dayne Walling, to reconnect Flint to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s water supply from Lake Huron.

The Legislature quickly appropriated $6 million to pay for half of the $12 million reconnection cost. The Mott Foundation donated $4 million and the city of Flint had to pay $2 million.
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Re: Flint Water Crisis Timeline

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Jan 07, 2016 8:11 pm

Brain Damage: Children Suffer the Consequences of Anti-Regulation in Michigan
Thursday, 07 January 2016 00:00
By Brian Moench, Truthout | Op-Ed

LeeAnne Walters, a resident who says her 4-year-old son has been found to have high lead levels in his blood, holds a water filter that shows signs of lead particles from her home in Flint, Mich., Oct. 6, 2015. “I’m happy that the city is finally doing what they should have done a long time ago,” Walters said. Residents of Flint lauded a decision Thursday to switch the city to its old water source after water from the Flint River was linked to rising lead levels in the blood of some children. (Laura McDermott / The New York Times)
LeeAnne Walters, a resident who says her 4-year-old son has been found to have high lead levels in his blood, holds a water filter that shows signs of lead particles from her home in Flint, Michigan, October 6, 2015. Residents of Flint lauded a decision Thursday to switch the city to its old water source after water from the Flint River was linked to rising lead levels in the blood of some children. (Laura McDermott / The New York Times)

Antipathy to environmental protection and disdain for the government's role in protecting the public's well-being have been prominent themes of the Republican Party in the era of the Tea Party. The scandal of toxic levels of lead in Flint, Michigan's municipal water supply reveals how dangerous these ideas become when put into practice. Thousands of children in Flint are now facing the lifelong and largely irreversible consequences of lead poisoning due to state and local leaders' criminal disregard for their health.

Two employees from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) have resigned over the scandal, and more are expected to follow. Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency in Genesee County on January 5, because of the water contamination. But Flint residents have taken to social media calling for the arrest of Governor Snyder (using hashtags such as #InvestigateGovSnyder, #IndictGovSnyder, ‪#ArrestGovSnyder, #PureMichigan) who appointed the Flint emergency manager directly responsible for the tragedy. Meanwhile, according to Democracy Now!, "Michigan activists are planning to hold a tribunal on Flint water poisoning and the continued shutoffs of drinking water in Detroit, in the coming weeks." Federal prosecutors are now investigating the saga.

How Flint's Leaders Poisoned Their Own Constituents

In April 2014, to save money, the unelected emergency manager of Flint, Michigan (the same one who had shut off the water of residents too poor to pay their water bills), who had been appointed by Snyder, switched the city's water source from Detroit, which gets its supply from Lake Huron, to the Flint River, well known to be severely polluted. This occurred despite the fact that avoiding Flint water had long been considered an essential ritual of living in Flint.

Almost immediately, residents began complaining about the water; it was visibly cloudy, tasted terrible and reeked of a foul odor. Stop me if you've heard this scenario before, but city and state officials' response for several months was to deny that there was a problem. In the fierce winter cold of January 2015, protesters marched to city hall to challenge "plummeting water quality, soaring water rates" and police that were arresting citizens for "water theft." Well more than a year after the problem began, Brad Wurfel, spokesman for MDEQ and one of those forced to resign, told a reporter: "Let me start here - anyone who is concerned about lead in the drinking water in Flint can relax."

The federal Lead and Copper Rule requires that all large public water systems maintain a program to control levels of lead in drinking water caused by corrosion. Flint River water was known to be highly corrosive to lead and iron piping. It was entirely predictable that lead would leach out of old plumbing systems inside the homes and the city service lines connected to them.Nonetheless, public officials made the switch without any measures taken or even a plan to reduce the water's corrosiveness.

When it was revealed that the MDEQ had failed to require such a plan, it then proceeded to deny and cover up its own incompetence. Water samples taken in February 2015 by the University of Michigan and private citizens showed extremely high levels of lead, which were reported to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Deadly Cover-Ups

In March, Flint resident LeeAnn Walters had observed her 4-year-old son was breaking out in rashes, not growing, and his hair was thinning. An EPA employee helped her gather water samples under strict protocol to send to a Virginia Tech professor. The World Health Organization considers the acceptable level of lead in water to be 10 parts per billion, the EPA, 15 parts per billion. Test results from Virginia Tech showed average lead levels in Walters' water were 2,429 parts per billion. One sample showed 13,200 parts per billion. The threshold for declaring water hazardous waste is 5,000 parts per billion. Walters' son's blood lead levels had tripled. When queried by an EPA employee, MDEQ staff said that the cause of lead in Walters' water had been found to be "lead sources in her plumbing." It was a complete fabrication. Walters had new, plastic, lead-free plumbing installed in her home.

Over the next several months, in meetings and internal memos, MDEQ employees mocked the EPA employee and apparently "arranged" with EPA bureaucrats to have him taken off the case; they publicly and condescendingly dismissed the test results from Virginia Tech, and labeled the entire saga "near-hysteria," and concern about it "irresponsible." Gov. Rick Snyder's office issued an official statement declaring that the water from the Flint River was safe, but that, "some families with lead plumbing in their homes or service connections could experience higher levels of lead in the water that comes out of their faucets."

The MDEQ's arrogant and defiant posture succeeded in drawing a curtain over what they had done, until a team at Hurley Medical Center, led by pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, showed that the number of children with abnormally high levels of lead in their blood had doubled since the water supply was switched to the Flint River. Then it was Hanna-Attisha's turn to be denigrated by state and local officials.

The Lifelong Burden of Lead Exposure

The consequences of lead exposure are varied, insidious, long-term, and include anemia, hypertension, renal impairment, and immunotoxicity. But the most profound are the neurologic consequences, which are basically permanent brain damage, such as loss of intelligence and behavioral disorders, including aggressive, dysfunctional and violent behavior. Exposure to lead during pregnancy even reduces the head circumference of infants, and brain gray matter in areas responsible for things such as impulse control and executive functioning.

Health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have for years stated that no amount of lead exposure is safe, which, put another way means, any amount of lead exposure constitutes lead "poisoning," which is somewhat at odds with any standard of "acceptable levels" in drinking water that is above zero. Furthermore, it is also at odds with official CDC guidelines that consider a blood level of lead below 5 ug/dl as acceptable.

This fact has had an exclamation point added by recent research showing even tiny amounts of lead are associated with a measurable loss of IQ. In a recent study, every 0.19 ug/dl of lead in the blood of teenagers was associated with a loss of IQ of 1 point.

In the United States, the average blood lead level of preschoolers is about 1.3 ug/dl, which means that even children with no discernible lead exposure are experiencing a loss of about 7 IQ points due to the low levels of lead in their blood. It is a virtual certainty that the thousands of children in Flint will experience much more significant intelligence losses and behavioral disorders.

In December 2015, Flint's newly elected mayor, Karen Weaver, called the situation a human-made disaster and declared a state of emergency after Hurley doctors found even stronger evidence that Flint homes with the highest levels of lead in water corresponded to the highest levels of lead in the blood of children.

But even this research underestimated the risks. The children tested were between the ages of 1 and 2. But exposure during the period from conception to age 6 months is even more dangerous, Hanna-Attisha told the Guardian. "Lead is only detectable in the blood for 30 days after exposure," the Guardian reported. It mimics calcium, and then settles in the bones. So, Hanna-Attisha said, "many children may not have had elevated lead levels at the time of testing, but if they had been exposed previously, the damage could already have been done but remained undetected."

Hanna-Attisha's group, supported by the county health department and a coalition of health professionals, finally left the MDEQ nowhere else to hide. She described the situation as an "emergency ... alarming ... gut wrenching."

Chlorine-Based Contaminants

Lead isn't by any means Flint's only water contaminant. Lead doesn't necessarily discolor water or make it smell and taste terrible. Bacteria can do that, and so can excessive use of chlorine to treat bacteria. The city started adding extra chlorine to the Flint water to kill high bacteria levels. Excessive levels of breakdown products of chlorine, collectively known as trihalomethanen (TTHM), was acknowledged to be plaguing Flint water by the city within several months after the switch.Chronic exposure to TTHM (one of which is the antiquated anesthetic chloroform) can precipitate cancer, plus many of the same health consequences as lead. In the winter of 2015, the city sent a bizarre, inaccurate and worthless notice to Flint residents claiming the water was safe to drink but warned those with "a severely compromised immune system, [who] have an infant or are elderly" that they "may be at increased risk and should seek advice about drinking water from your health care provider" because of TTHM.

That's like saying to Flint residents its OK to smoke for a while because cigarettes don't kill you for several years. And I can guarantee that the number of health-care providers who could give any meaningful advice about how much TTHM is safe to drink is zero.

Apologies Aren't Enough

A task force set up by Governor Snyder concluded that MDEQ demonstrated a "minimalist approach" to regulatory oversight, and established a "tone of scorn and derision" toward the public, including outside water and health experts who had tried to warn them.

"Flint residents filed a class-action federal lawsuit against Snyder, the state, the city and 13 other public officials in November for the damages [their families] have suffered as a result of the lead-tainted water," The Washington Post reported. According to the complaint, "For more than 18 months, state and local government officials ignored irrefutable evidence that the water pumped from the Flint River exposed [residents] to extreme toxicity ... the deliberately false denials about the safety of the Flint River water was as deadly as it was arrogant," and officials' conduct was "so egregious and so outrageous that it shocks the conscience."

Snyder officially apologized, "I want the Flint community to know how very sorry I am that this has happened." He's certainly nowhere near as sorry as the parents, nor as sorry as the children, when they realize what was done to them.

The thousands of Flint residents who have taken to social media calling for Snyder's arrest and the Michigan activists who are planning a tribunal on Flint water poisoning are seeking to hold local leaders responsible for their misdeeds, but no measure of accountability could match the gravity of the damages done.

There are over 8,000 children in Flint under the age of 6, the time period during which children would be most vulnerable to brain damage from lead.Based on the previously mentioned latest research, every child exposed to Flint water - from a tap, from a shower or bath, from food cooked in it or from formula mixed with it - has been irreversibly harmed.
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Re: Flint Water Crisis Timeline

Postby Iamwhomiam » Fri Jan 08, 2016 3:07 am

Thank you slad, for following this tragic story.

"State officials have admitted the DEQ failed to require Flint to add corrosion controlling agents to the water to prevent lead pipes from leaching the harmful chemical element into the drinking water supply."

$$$$

Most city water systems still have a surprising amount of brain damaging lead pipe, most of which connects homes to the water main supply line, but some older cities still have some smaller lead water mains, too. (Albany still has functioning 18C wooden sewer lines!) Lead water lines were outlawed only in 1987, and many are yet to be replaced.

Homeowners are usually responsible the cost and maintenance of the supply line from the main to the water meter, and replacing them can cost thousands of dollars. Lead water supply lines are more often found in older homes where the water meter is still in the home, usually located in basements. If a home has a newer meter with a monitor that can be read electronically, it probably hasn’t any lead pipe. When plumbers come across lead supply lines they are supposed to call the water department who will red tag the lead pipe supply and shut off the water at the main, and order immediate replacement.

Ironically and most unfortunately, their DEC guy was probably bending to the will of the fiscally-strapped city to save a few dollars in not requiring the softener be used.

I really feel for those impacted. Chelation’s risky, and sadly, brain damage is permanent.

There can be no adequate compensation for the harm they’ve suffered and which they will continue to suffer from until they die.


Tell me, Jack, what have you read in the NYT about Hoosick Falls water supply?

Anyone?

A danger that lurks below
In Hoosick Falls, have health problems resulted from water contamination?
Dec 14, 2015
http://tinyurl.com/z4hltzq (via wiki, to bypass paywall)

A small town's grim story
December 14, 2015
http://tinyurl.com/jqlhjeh

The Mayor actually advised folk to continue drinking the water - that it was fine.
But then...

EPA to Hoosick Falls: Don't drink the water
Hoosick Falls' mayor adopts EPA position on PFOA tainted water
December 17, 2015
http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/EPA-to-Hoosick-Falls-Don-t-the-drink-the-water-6705813.php

EPA pushes for deep study of Hoosick Falls water pollution
Federal agency warns water polluted with chemical PFOA is not safe for villagers to drink
December 19, 2015
http://tinyurl.com/j7m6ghe

Hoosick Falls Water PFOA Contamination Update
Dec 22, 2015
http://wamc.org/post/hoosick-falls-water-pfoa-contamination-update

PFOA Scare In New York Spurs Federal Involvement
http://www.wateronline.com/doc/pfoa-scare-in-new-york-spurs-federal-involvement-0001

The Village of Hoosick Falls, NY
http://www.villageofhoosickfalls.com/news.html


I posted this link long ago, it’s to Toxics Targeting and provides a map of more than one-half million polluted sites in NYS, by chemical pollutant. (Haven’t looked for distant locales myself, but found it useful locally. Every state should have a Walter Hang.)

Most communities are severely polluted due to irresponsible toxic materials handling and toxic waste disposal. The site of many long operating dry cleaning business sites, chrome plating businesses, to now long abandoned coal tar processing sites (and so much more… :( :tear
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Re: Flint Water Crisis Timeline

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Jan 09, 2016 12:11 pm

Image



Critics call for Michigan governor’s resignation, arrest over Flint’s contaminated water
Published time: 9 Jan, 2016 03:23

© Lucy Nicholson / Reuters


Emails show that high-ranking officials in Michigan were aware of elevated lead levels in Flint’s water six months before the state of emergency was declared. Calls are mounting for the governor to resign or face criminal charges.
Internal emails, obtained by NBC News, were written by Governor Rick Snyder’s former chief of staff, Dennis Muchmore, to the state health department saying he was frustrated by the water issue in Flint.

"These folks are scared and worried about the health impacts and they are basically getting blown off by us (as a state we're just not sympathizing with their plight)," Muchmore wrote in the email, according to NBC News.

"I really don't think people are getting the benefit of the doubt," Muchmore continued. "Now they are concerned and rightfully so about the lead level studies they are receiving."

About 200 Flint residents rallied outside City Hall on Friday, many of them calling for Governor Snyder to resign or face criminal charges over the poisoned water scandal.


...



Aljazeera America

Lead is a potent neurotoxin, which can cause irreversible brain damage in children. It is something much worse: a human rights abuse in an American city.


Flint’s water crisis is a human rights violation The state of Michigan put money ahead of the welfare of its children
January 9, 2016 2:00AM ET
by Benjamin Spoer @BenjaminSpoer
On Jan. 5, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency in Flint and Genesee County, where lead in the area’s drinking water has been showing up at toxic levels in the bloodstreams of children. The water became toxic because of a decision by the government Snyder runs.

In 2014 the city of Flint’s emergency manager, appointed by the state, ordered that the city stop drawing water from Lake Huron and start taking it from the Flint River. However, the river’s corrosive waters stripped lead from the water system’s pipes, contaminating the drinking water. Though the city has switched back to drawing water from Lake Huron, the local water still contains dangerous levels of lead, and local officials are handing out water filters as they try to come up with a solution.

This emergency goes beyond simply a public health problem. (Lead is a potent neurotoxin, which can cause irreversible brain damage in children.) It is something much worse: a human rights abuse in an American city. In 2010, the United Nations declared that “ … clean drinking water … [is] essential to the realization of all human rights.” Flint’s contaminated water will prevent children from realizing their human right to health, enumerated in Article 25 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

.......

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Re: Flint Water Crisis Timeline

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Jan 10, 2016 12:01 am

what the fuck is wrong with these people ....lead in the won't soak into your baby's skin fast????


Controversial Flint ‘Bath Time’ Poster Removed From Government Website [PHOTO]
January 9, 2016 10:00 PM
Image
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) — The water crisis in Flint has been an ongoing and painful saga for the city’s residents. State and local authorities have come under criticism for the handling of the situation that has now become a national topic.

The latest controversy isn’t about the amount of lead in Flint’s water, but rather a poster that was featured on the State’s website which stated that it is safe for children and adults to bathe in the contaminated water.

“Hey Flint! It’s Safe To Wash,” the poster proclaims, with the images of two happy babies below. Some have called the poster insensitive because of its light-hearted approach to a situation that has had a serious impact on many Flint families.

Flint water poster


After being brought to light by the Metro Times, the poster was later removed and replaced with a much more informative flyer.

The crisis first started when the city of Flint chose to change its water supply from Detroit water to water from the Flint River in 2014. Residents began to complain about the smell, color and taste of the water shortly after the switch. Heightened levels of lead were later found in the blood tests of children from three Flint schools.

The city switched back to Detroit water in October.

Flint mayor Karen Weaver met with Michigan governor Rick Snyder Thursday, two days after declaring an emergency for Flint and Genessee County. Both described the discussion as productive and said they agreed to establish a group of state and local agency officials that will consider future steps.
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Re: Flint Water Crisis Timeline

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Jan 12, 2016 8:51 am

JANUARY 12, 2016
The Barbarism of Rick Snyder: a Statement and Curse
by JONATHAN ANDERSEN

The news is relentlessly grim, but there is no recent story that better encapsulates the barbarism we continue to choose as a country than the poisoning of the Flint, Michigan drinking water supply.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, aided by craven functionaries, cut public spending by replacing the clean Lake Huron water that had been the domestic water source for Flint, Michigan with the Dupont- and GM- poisoned water of the Flint River. Doubling down on the racist, class-oppressive carelessness of making the people of Flint consume this toxic waste, an act unimaginable for wealthier, whiter communities, Snyder allowed the water be treated with ferric chloride, a coagulating agent that would somehow magically make the meandering channel of old waste water that is the Flint River potable. Instead, it greatly accelerated the leaching of lead into the supply; hence, Snyder’s austerity-driven actions have resulted in exposing all of the children of Flint, not to mention the adults, to the dangers of massive lead poisoning.

Trebling down on the carelessness, the consistent response of Snyder’s government to growing community concerns were characterized by mockery, hostility, and energetic attempts to discredit the uncontroversial science supporting the public outcry. Snyder’s own task force report notes the tonal issues of the government response to the public – an obvious move to encourage the rolling of heads other than his own. Indeed, the director and the spokesman for Rick Snyder’s department of environmental protection have resigned. Snyder accepted the resignations and made his first statement expressing contrition, which, predictably, was slick but not very contrite. Rick Snyder is not sorry for his willful actions; he’s sorry “that this has happened.” He assures us that he “understand[s] there can be disagreement within the scientific community” and that “we will learn from this experience.”

The whole thing literally makes me sick, but not nearly as sick as it makes the children of Flint. Like most people who are not psychopaths, I feel an urgent desire to help children who are under attack, but there’s not much I can do. However, my skill set does include writing poems and sending emails, and along with a number of other beliefs represented by the flag I am nailing to the mast these days—from each according to ability and to each according to need; my world is my country; we are all connected, etc. —is the belief that art might have a civic function. So I have written the poem below, which I am distributing with a call for people to sign Michael Moore’s petition for the governor’s arrest, which can be found here: http://michaelmoore.com/ArrestGovSnyder

For Venture Capitalist, Accountant, Business Executive, and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Who Successfully Cut Public Spending by Tapping the Toxic Flint River for Drinking Water and Poisoning the Children of the City of Flint: A Curse

Curse and invective are strangely missing from American poetry…[F]or the most part, our poets are public lovers and private haters. — Donald Hall

Here’s the deal, Governor:

I am willing to believe in an afterlife

in which you might find forgiveness

if that afterlife first detains you

twitchy and confused, not

adamantine-chained, but encircled

in industrial-lot razor wire, where we

will find you giving up, giving in

to reach for the one glinting glass

you get, chugging greedily the lead-

-steeped water, picturing your own

ganglia dying off like galaxies

but needing, needing to drink.

I am willing to believe in an afterlife

in which you are pardoned upon

the millionth time you convulse to vomit

but can’t; an afterlife in which you stare

frustrated, uncomprehendingly

at spreadsheet calculations of your wealth

now gone; an afterlife in which you,

red-faced, fatigued beyond belief,

are sorry. Yes, I would be willing

to abide redemption for you there

when your body-burden,

your toxic load has burned you

across enough weeks to equal

all the moments in the forevers

of the once full-blooming imaginations

of every child you served

the dark waters of Flint River here.
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Re: Flint Water Crisis Timeline

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jan 13, 2016 10:42 pm

87 cases, 10 fatal, of Legionella bacteria found in Flint area; connection to water crisis unclear



1 / 43
City employees and elected officials raise glasses of treated water from the Flint River during a toast in a ceremony stopping the intake of water from Detroit on Friday, April 25, 2014 at the Flint Water Treatment Plant. The city will use the Flint River as its primary water source as the Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline is built. Samuel Wilson | Mlive.com
Jake May | jmay2@mlive.com
Print Email Khalil AlHajal | kalhajal@mlive.com By Khalil AlHajal | kalhajal@mlive.com
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on January 13, 2016 at 3:07 PM, updated January 13, 2016 at 7:06 PM




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FLINT WATER
Kroger, UA Local 370 to donate 25,104 cases of bottled water to Flint
Flint residents scared following Legionnaires' Disease reports
Legionnaires' Disease: What is the bacterium that's led to 10 deaths in the Flint area
Legionnaires' just the latest health worry tied to use of Flint River
Flint water on legislative radar as news breaks of spike in Legionnaires' Disease
All Stories

Gov. Rick Snyder on Flint Legionnaires' disease outbreak and water crisis
Gov. Rick Snyder on Flint Legionnaires' disease outbreak and water crisis
DETROIT, MI — A spike in cases of Legionella bacteria has been discovered in the Flint area, Gov. Rick Snyder and a pair of Health and Human Services Department officials announced Wednesday.
Officials said there's no evidence of a clear link between the outbreak and the water system change that's caused an uproar over elevated lead levels found in Flint children.

From June 2014 to March 2015, 45 cases of Legionella bacteria were confirmed in Genesee County, according to the state Health and Human Services Department Director Nick Lyon.

Seven of those cases were fatal.

From May 2015 to November 2015, 42 cases were confirmed in Genesee county.

Three of those were fatal.

Chief Medical Executive for the Health and Human Services Department Eden Wells said "87 cases is a lot. That tells us that there is a source there that needs to be investigated."

Updates to come.

Snyder Legionnaires outbreak.jpg
Gov. Rick Snyder and officials of the state Health and Human Services Department announce the discovery of an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in a Detroit press conferences Jan. 13, 2016. (Khalil AlHajal | MLive)
Khalil AlHajal | kalhajal@mlive.com

Snyder declared a state of emergency in Flint earlier this month because of the city's lead in water crisis, apologizing for the state's role in rising lead levels in Flint water and in the blood of young children.

The city changed its water source to the Flint River in April 2014. Following the switch, residents began complaining about discoloration and the water's taste and smell. The city initially struggled with bacteria levels and the presence of a disinfectant byproduct, TTHM, in the water.

Then, in September, a Flint pediatrician released results of her study that showed rising blood lead levels in children in certain areas of the city. The state initially disputed her findings but later corroborated them based on state data.

The city eventually switched back to receiving water via the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, which gets its water from Lake Huron.

Those developments all occurred while the city was being run by an emergency manager appointed by the governor.

Tuesday evening, Jan. 12, Snyder activated the National Guard to respond in Flint to his declaration of an emergency. The governor's spokesman has said the activation marks just the second time Snyder has taken such an action, last activating the National Guard in 2012 to assist with the Duck Lake Fire.

Snyder has also asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help in coordinating a plan aimed at solving Flint's water crisis.

The governor said Wednesday in a Detroit press conference that the decision to send in the National Guard was not related to the spike in Legionnaires' disease cases.

About 30 National Guardsmen were expected to move into Flint to help distribute water filters and other supplies.

"We're going to look at the staffing levels to make sure we keep up a high level of activity and availability in terms of resources," Snyder said.

More on the Legionnaires' disease outbreak here.

More on the Flint water crisis here.
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Re: Flint Water Crisis Timeline

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Jan 15, 2016 5:15 pm

Emergency for Democracy: Unelected Manager Who Caused Flint Water Crisis Now Runs Detroit Schools
JANUARY 15, 2016STORYWATCH FULL SHOW


CURT GUYETTE
investigative reporter for the ACLU of Michigan. His work focuses on emergency management and open government.
MONA HANNA-ATTISHA
director of the pediatric residency program at Hurley Children’s Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at Michigan State University. She discovered the connection between rising blood lead levels in Flint’s children with the switch to the Flint River as a water source.
This is viewer supported newsDONATE
Flint’s water contamination crisis began in April 2014 after Darnell Earley, an unelected emergency manager appointed by Snyder, switched Flint’s water source to the long-polluted and corrosive Flint River in a bid to save money. Earley is now the emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools. This week, Detroit’s teachers have staged a series of "sickouts" to protest the vast underfunding of the public schools, which have black mold, rat infestations, crumbling buildings and inadequate staffing. We are joined by Curt Guyette, an investigative reporter for the ACLU of Michigan whose work focuses on emergency management and open government. Michigan has the most sweeping emergency management laws in the country, which allow the governor to appoint a single person to run financially troubled cities.

TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, we’re also joined by Curt Guyette, an investigative reporter for the ACLU of Michigan. His work focuses on emergency management and open government. Michigan has the most sweeping emergency management laws in the country, which allow the governor to appoint a single person to run financially troubled cities. Emergency Manager Darnell Earley, who presided over the Flint water switch, is now the emergency manager of the Detroit public school system. This week, Detroit’s teachers have staged a series of "sickouts" to protest the vast underfunding of the public schools, which have black mold, rat infestation, crumbling buildings and inadequate staffing. Detroit teachers say they have up to 45 or 50 students in some classrooms.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Curt Guyette, can you talk about how this man, who is the one who ultimately pushed the switch, relying on the—turning from the Detroit water system to Flint’s river, that has poisoned so many people, is now in charge of the Detroit Public Schools? And we’re hearing health problems, not to mention education problems.

CURT GUYETTE: Well, one of the things about the emergency manager law is that these managers were given extreme unchecked authority. And the thinking was, the reason for doing that is they were given the ability to come in, clean up the problems and get out. And so there was an 18-month time limit put on their terms. Except that this governor is exploiting what amounts to a loophole in that law. So what happens is that these emergency managers serve for 17 months and 29 days, and the day before their term expires, they resign. A new emergency manager is put in place, and the clock starts ticking all over again. And they just shuffle them from one place to another. So Earley goes from Flint to run DPS. And it just perpetuates this control. It can go on, really, forever, if they want it to, denying people of their democratically elected representation, because the school board, which has been fighting emergency management every step of the way, gets completely marginalized. They have zero authority whatsoever. And that goes to the heart of the problem of this law. It eliminates the democratic checks and balances that make a democracy functional.

And the other thing is, what we’re seeing here is really the imposition of austerity. This is what austerity looks like. So you have all the problems in these schools that you just reported on, because they’re treating it like a managerial problem rather than a structural problem. I’ve used before the analogy: It’s like being the captain of the Titanic, and you hit an iceberg. It doesn’t matter who’s at the helm; the ship is going down unless you plug the hole. And they haven’t plugged the holes. They haven’t fixed the structural problems.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Curt Guyette—Curt, we have just about a minute, but I just wanted to ask you, in terms of the cities that Governor Snyder has chosen to institute these emergency managers, what’s the racial composition of a lot of these cities?

CURT GUYETTE: With the exception of one, they are all majority African-American. And they’re also all very poor cities. So this is a racial issue, and it’s a class issue.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Dr. Hanna-Attisha, I wanted to go back to this question of Legionnaires’ disease. I mean, if it could get any worse, is there a connection between the water contamination, the lead poisoning and Legionnaires’ disease?

DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: Well, I’m not an expert on Legionnaires’, but the water chemistry was a perfect setup for this to happen. The corrosive water that was untreated with corrosion control not only leached lead, but it also leached iron from the pipes. And iron eats up the chlorine, which you need to kill your bacteria. And then the iron also served as a nutrient or food for bacteria to overgrow. So it was a perfect setup for outbreaks like this.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for being with us. Of course, we’ll continue to follow this story. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of Hurley Children’s Hospital, and Curt Guyette, an investigative journalist with the ACLU of Michigan, thanks so much for joining us.




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