The EPA knew about Flint’s toxic water for months and didn’t tell anyone

posted at 4:01 pm on January 16, 2016 by Jazz Shaw

We haven’t had the chance to really dig into the toxic plume which is the drinking water supply in Flint, Michigan yet, but by this point it’s obvious that this is a disaster with far reaching implications. Normally when I think of a disaster coming out of Flint it’s Michael Moore, but this happens to be no laughing matter. In case you somehow missed it, the drinking water in and around the city has toxic levels of lead in it, with the metal showing up in residents’ blood streams in damaging levels. At the same time they’re wrestling with an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease, also associated with tainted water supplies. As usual, there are activists working every bit as hard to assign blame for this mess as working for a solution.

Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders took the obvious route which many other members of his party and assorted liberal activists have done… blame the Governor and call for his resignation. The reason I say “obvious” in this context is that Michigan had been run by a Democrat (Jennifer Granholm) from 2003 until a Republican (Snyder) took over the Governor’s mansion, so why not just blame him, right? (The Mayor of Flint is a Democrat too, so we can’t be blaming him.)

As it turns out, people knew about the horrible water situation long before the Governor ever caught wind of it. And when you think of a government agency in the same sentence as a disaster in a water supply, who do you think of first? The Environmental Protection Agency, of course. As The Daily Caller found out, the EPA was looking into this almost a year ago but buried the topic in an internal food fight.

EPA official Susan Hedman did not publicize the EPA’s concern over Flint’s water quality or the water’s dangerous health concerns. The federal agency instead quietly fought with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for at least six months about what should be done.

EPA water expert, Miguel Del Toral, identified potential contamination problems with Flint’s drinking water last February and confirmed the suspicions in April. He authored an internal memo about the problem in June, according to documents obtained by Virginia Tech.

Meanwhile, Hedman became aware of the contamination issue in April. She sought legal advice, but didn’t receive the guidance until November 2014. The American Civil Liberties Union accused Hedman in October of attempting to keep Miguel Del Toral’s memo in-house, downplaying its significance.

This would be stunning if we weren’t talking about the EPA and their state level counterparts in the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. These days it’s sadly not that much of a surprise. So the people best equipped (allegedly) to deal with the problem knew about it in February of last year. By mid-summer the Governor’s office had been made aware by residents that there were “complaints” about the water being discolored and tasting bad, but he wasn’t informed of any actual toxic level problems until October, at which point the state government machinery ground into action.

Still, since everyone wants to Blame Snyder, he finally responded. (Time Magazine)

In an interview with TIME shortly before he announced the federal emergency request, Snyder says he first knew about potentially serious problems with the water supply on Oct. 1, 2015, when testing by state environmental officials confirmed elevated levels of lead. Pressed on whether that was the first time he became aware of any concern with Flint’s water, Snyder says, “Obviously, I knew there were water issues in Flint. But did I know there were unsafe blood levels? No.”

In a recently-released email from July 2015, Snyder’s former chief of staff, Dennis Muchmore, wrote to a state health department official that he was concerned that Flint residents believed they were getting “blown off” by state officials. Snyder says the email shows that his office was not neglecting the city, and Muchmore was “concerned that we were getting straight answers so he asked tough questions and he got answers.”

The Governor also faulted the Department of Environmental Quality, which repeatedly told Flint residents the water was safe to drink despite the fact that they had reports in their hands showing that the lead levels were off the charts.

Look, I get that the Governor is the captain of the ship when it comes to hitting an iceberg, and he acknowledged that much in the interview. Everyone who works for the state at every level is his responsibility. But there’s a limit to how much blame you can dump on the Governor while he’s in the middle of cleaning up this mess. In the meantime, keep handing out the bottled water. Flint is even more toxic than it’s ever been.

Rick Snyder Michigan


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

This has been an issue for almost 40 years. When you transport water through lead main pipes, then deliver it to homes with copper pipes, the lead content in the water increases exponentially. Everyone is to blame, from the local government all the way up to the EPA. No one will be held accountable, but it makes a great political football to toss around in order to advance whichever hobby horse you prefer. 3 months from now, nobody will care.

wytshus on January 16, 2016 at 4:12 PM

Get rid of the EPA…

OmahaConservative on January 16, 2016 at 4:18 PM

Yep our government in action….just let a private business get away with something like this.. Having said that someone in the EPA needs to go to jail. Accountability can be a b!tch but someone has to be held accountable for this…no excuse if you are in charge and failure occurs.

jaywemm on January 16, 2016 at 4:19 PM

If the EPA failed to use its power, you can be sure it was to give the favored people time to get out of the spotlight. Not to mention time to dump investments that would be crushed by the EPA action to come.

platypus on January 16, 2016 at 4:20 PM

This is called depraved indifference: Legal definition – To constitute depraved indifference, the defendant’s conduct must be ‘so wanton, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime. Depraved indifference focuses on the risk created by the defendant’s conduct, not the injuries actually resulting.
So what prosecutor will charge the EPA people and state people with this criminal conduct. It is time that criminal charges are filed against government officials who refuse to honor their responsibilities to safeguard citizens at a minimum by alerting them to dangers.
If a business was releasing deadly chemicals into the river and got caught, what would happen to them.
If there are no consequences for government criminal actions, will this crap ever end or do the American people have to become vigilantes to force government to uphold its responsibilities. Where are the law enforcement leadership that will say enough is enough and take action, placing the American people first? Taking the path of civil discourse has not worked as it should in a representative republic!

amr on January 16, 2016 at 4:24 PM

Uh, Go Chiefs.

(Just sayin’)

IDontCair on January 16, 2016 at 4:28 PM

They’ve got their hands full being on the front lines in the war against our greatest national security threat — climate existence

ShainS on January 16, 2016 at 4:28 PM

This is hilarious. Blogger trying to twist himself backwards to avoid blaming the governor but let a tree branch fall in Vancouver and it’s Obama’s fault. Lol.

Politricks on January 16, 2016 at 4:31 PM

This is hilarious. Blogger trying to twist himself backwards to avoid blaming the governor but let a tree branch fall in Vancouver and it’s Obama’s fault. Lol.

Politricks on January 16, 2016 at 4:31 PM

This is hilarious. A rational argument is put forth and the troll refuses to refute it. Instead he’ll babble nonsense.

307wolverine on January 16, 2016 at 4:36 PM

Politricks on January 16, 2016 at 4:31 PM

Do you want the Gov to resign, take the blame,or both?

If so, tell us why.

docflash on January 16, 2016 at 4:38 PM

Blogger trying to twist himself backwards to avoid blaming the governor but let a tree branch fall in Vancouver and it’s Obama’s fault.

I am guessing you failed to notice this bit:

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) top Midwest official knew about the Flint, Michigan drinking water crisis of 2015 months before telling the public…

You might try reading the article and links before contorting yourself to excuse the incompetence of 0bama and his minions.

F X Muldoon on January 16, 2016 at 4:38 PM

This is hilarious. Anonymous commenter trying to twist himself backwards to deflect blame from his Lord and Saviour. Blame the Rino, because Barry Soetoro does no wrong…

wytshus on January 16, 2016 at 4:39 PM

This is hilarious. Blogger trying to twist himself backwards to avoid blaming the governor but let a tree branch fall in Vancouver and it’s Obama’s fault. Lol.

Politricks on January 16, 2016 at 4:31 PM

lookie here, big stinky just showed up to fart.

arnold ziffel on January 16, 2016 at 4:40 PM

This is hilarious. Blogger trying to twist himself backwards to avoid blaming the governor but let a tree branch fall in Vancouver and it’s Obama’s fault. Lol.

Politricks on January 16, 2016 at 4:31 PM

So who is in charge of the EPA Numb nuts?

GarandFan on January 16, 2016 at 4:42 PM

The issue is that lead service lines has been in place for decades. These lines for the most part have long since have build up inside the pipes that prevents the lead from leaching. Switching to river water instead of the great lakes water, the pH is harder to control since it varies more. The water was more acidic which caused the leaching. There is some evidence that the city council and mayor voted for this switch. While the governor was screwed up several issues, placing all the blame at his feet is misguided. Cities should have had a program to replace these lead leaders years ago.

animal02 on January 16, 2016 at 4:46 PM

Now I’m going to have Grand Funk Railroad playing in my head the rest of the day.

Mark1971 on January 16, 2016 at 4:47 PM

PDF link is broken.

Patriot Vet on January 16, 2016 at 4:48 PM

A month or so before last year’s EPA disaster geologist Dave Taylor warned the EPA in the Silverton Standard that their foolishness would drain the Gold King Mine into Animas River.

The fools at the EPA and their subcontractor ignored the advice thus turning the Animas and San Juan rivers orange with toxic waste which otherwise would have remained in the mine.

A few months ago the subcontractor was awarded more EPA contracts for their shared incompetence.

viking01 on January 16, 2016 at 4:55 PM

This sort of nonsense is going to keep happening until some bureaucrats start going to prison. For knowingly endangering American citizens’ lives.

rbj on January 16, 2016 at 4:56 PM

I’ve read a little bit about this. Supposedly the switch to this water was suppose to be temporary while a new pipeline was built. The decision to switch the water was made by some kind of city manager installed by the governor because the city is in bankruptcy. I can understand the buck being passed around but what I can’t understand is why it took so long to fix once the complaints started rolling in. If it turns out that the EPA was telling everyone that the water was fine, it seems a little tough to blame the governor.

Cindy Munford on January 16, 2016 at 5:03 PM

Actually, if the top man in charge needs to bear the blame, the top man in charge of the EPA was…..Barack Obama.

unclesmrgol on January 16, 2016 at 5:04 PM

This is hilarious. Blogger trying to twist himself backwards to avoid blaming the governor but let a tree branch fall in Vancouver and it’s Obama’s fault. Lol.

Politricks on January 16, 2016 at 4:31 PM

This is hilarious. Commenter trying to twist himself backwards to avoid blaming the President, but let a terrorist kill dozens and it’s the Republicans’ fault.

unclesmrgol on January 16, 2016 at 5:06 PM

No use alarming folks…

claudius on January 16, 2016 at 5:07 PM

Why does everything take so long?

Cindy Munford on January 16, 2016 at 5:18 PM

Why does everything take so long?

They have to protect their phony baloney jobs.

F X Muldoon on January 16, 2016 at 5:24 PM

Why does everything take so long?

Cindy Munford on January 16, 2016 at 5:18 PM

If you ever visit Hoover Dam and take the tour, they start you out with a 30-minute film about the building of the dam between 1931 and 1936.

Near the end, the narrator says something that shocks most everyone and is difficult to comprehend in today’s world of ubiquitous government failure — something like: “The project was completed under budget and ahead of schedule.”

ShainS on January 16, 2016 at 5:30 PM

Government is just what we all do together….

HBowmanMD on January 16, 2016 at 5:34 PM

They have to protect their phony baloney jobs.

F X Muldoon on January 16, 2016 at 5:24 PM

That almost deserves a link to Blazing Saddles except this is serious stuff.

Harumph…

Kraken on January 16, 2016 at 5:39 PM

But if you intentionally drain a mud puddle, you will be fined thousands of dollars per day.

bobthm3 on January 16, 2016 at 5:49 PM

They have to protect their phony baloney jobs.

Harrumph!

wytshus on January 16, 2016 at 6:03 PM

EPA: Employment Prevention Agency

Jazz Shaw on January 16, 2016 at 6:05 PM

If it turns out that the EPA was telling everyone that the water was fine, it seems a little tough to blame the governor.

As I said, the decisions and the accountability ultimately rest on the Governor’s shoulders, but it’s not like he knew about it. Now the test is what he does to correct it and who gets fired.

Jazz Shaw on January 16, 2016 at 6:07 PM

It used to be that they built cars in Flint and it was not safe to drink the water in Mexico – nowadays they build cars in Mexico and it’s unsafe to drink the water in Flint!

My wife’s a Flint native but I got her out of there 40 years ago.

PatMac on January 16, 2016 at 6:11 PM

Meanwhile, Hedman became aware of the contamination issue in April. She sought legal advice, but didn’t receive the guidance until November 2014.

This is SIN.

“sought legal advice” while poison was being pumped out to citizens?

BURN IT DOWN, all the way.

Who is John Galt on January 16, 2016 at 6:35 PM

Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders took the obvious route which many other members of his party and assorted liberal activists have done… blame the Governor and call for his resignation. The reason I say “obvious” in this context is that Michigan had been run by a Democrat (Jennifer Granholm) from 2003 until a Republican (Snyder) took over the Governor’s mansion, so why not just blame him, right? (The Mayor of Flint is a Democrat too, so we can’t be blaming him.)

…Governor Snyder is as much a Republican as Bernie Sanders is a Democrat…and neither will GO AFTER the EPA for their negligence!

JugEarsButtHurt on January 16, 2016 at 6:38 PM

The EPA seems more like the environmental destruction agency….

sorrowen on January 16, 2016 at 6:45 PM

ShainS on January 16, 2016 at 5:30 PM

Isn’t that they way it use to be? If I thought Trump could put an end to the kind of crap that goes on, I could get on his bandwagon with no regrets.

Cindy Munford on January 16, 2016 at 6:59 PM

This is called depraved indifference: Legal definition – To constitute depraved indifference, the defendant’s conduct must be ‘so wanton, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime. Depraved indifference focuses on the risk created by the defendant’s conduct, not the injuries actually resulting…

amr on January 16, 2016 at 4:24 PM

Looks pretty cut-and-dried to me:

Meanwhile, Hedman became aware of the contamination issue in April. She sought legal advice, but didn’t receive the guidance until November 2014.

This is SIN.

“sought legal advice” while poison was being pumped out to citizens?

BURN IT DOWN, all the way.

Who is John Galt on January 16, 2016 at 6:35 PM

What were the lawyers doing for 7 months, and what legal advice do you need, to shut down a contaminated water supply that’s killing people?

AesopFan on January 16, 2016 at 7:24 PM

“BURN IT DOWN, all the way.”

Cut. Jib. Newsletter…

wytshus on January 16, 2016 at 7:35 PM

Naw, the EPA isn’t at fault, they were too busy trying to cover DOW’s ass along the Tittabawasee river, and telling us the water in the ditches can’t be used….to water the wild grass on the sides of the ditches so we don’t evaporate in a big ball of fire at the end of every summer.

Eliminate 100% of the alphabet agencies and you have a good start on correcting what’s wrong with government.

Andy__B on January 16, 2016 at 7:55 PM

didn’t receive the guidance until November 2014.

And what happened at the start of November 2014? An election….

SDN on January 16, 2016 at 7:55 PM

animal02 on January 16, 2016 at 4:46 PM

Bingo! Great Lakes water will be aroung pH 7.65 due to being in a limestone bedrock basin. Surface water can drop below pH 6 due to carbonic acid in the rainwater from CO2 in the air. Unless you put a buffering agent or otherwise control the pH to raise it, it can easily be too acidic for lead pipes and leach it out. In regard to the comment above about copper lines in the house, yes, you can get some acceleration of the process due to the galvanic coupling if there is not insulator between the copper and lead pipes. Oxygen on the surface of the copper can pick up electrons that actually come from the dissolving lead. The copper pipes thus increase the surface area available for electron exchange and will accelerate the corrosion of the less noble metal. One would think this would have been considered by the publically owned treatment works engineering staff during the planning process; unless the technical staff was ignored by the political types as often happens. This can also lead to leaking pipes that corrode through. One wonders if that was occurring.

I recently had to deal with a legionella outbreak at a location where leadership decided to quit treating the cooling towers in a price dispute with the water treatment contractor. Fouling from scale due to lack of antiscaling agent and lack of biocide allows amoebas to flourish and the Legionaires bacteria grows in their gut and greatly magnifies the concentration in the water when the temperature is right–as you often find in a cooling tower. It would be interesting to hear the background on the source of the legionella problem mentioned in the article.

KW64 on January 16, 2016 at 7:57 PM

Mainly just minorities and poor drinking it…right?

trs on January 16, 2016 at 7:58 PM

Jazz Shaw

We didn’t get a Haruphh outta THAT guy….

wytshus on January 16, 2016 at 7:59 PM

” In regard to the comment above about copper lines in the house, yes, you can get some acceleration of the process due to the galvanic coupling if there is not insulator between the copper and lead pipes. Oxygen on the surface of the copper can pick up electrons that actually come from the dissolving lead. The copper pipes thus increase the surface area available for electron exchange and will accelerate the corrosion of the less noble metal. One would think this would have been considered by the publically owned treatment works engineering staff during the planning process; unless the technical staff was ignored by the political types as often happens. This can also lead to leaking pipes that corrode through. One wonders if that was occurring.”

I was told there would be no chemistry in this blog….

wytshus on January 16, 2016 at 8:23 PM

Flint, like big brother Detroit down the way, has a long history of political dominance by the Democratic party. Its current mayor is a Democrat; so was her predecessor; the mayor before him, Don Williamson, was a career criminal (he did time for various scams some years back) and a Democrat who resigned under threat of recall; his immediate predecessor, Democrat James W. Rutherford, is a longtime politico and was elected to finish out the term of Woodrow Stanley, who was recalled because of the financial state in which he left the city.

Flint is the Democratic approach to governance made concrete: It poisons everything it controls.

Terp Mole on January 16, 2016 at 8:29 PM

Illinois has a new Republican governor, too. Perhaps Bernie will find a way to use MLK Jr. Holiday weekend to smear him for Chicago’s black-on-black murder epidemic under Rahm Emanuel’s single-party Democratic rule.

Terp Mole on January 16, 2016 at 8:34 PM

I was told there would be no chemistry in this blog….

wytshus on January 16, 2016 at 8:23 PM

Maybe the people at the Publically owned treatment works were told there was not chemistry in their job either.

KW64 on January 16, 2016 at 9:22 PM

Look, I get that the Governor is the captain of the ship when it comes to hitting an iceberg, and he acknowledged that much in the interview.

Over my sixty-plus years I’ve seen this play out over and over again. Democrats run a city and/or state for decades. When things go bad or start seriously deteriorating, the residents get fed up and finally vote in Republicans. But guess what? Now it’s a catastrophe, and no amount of scrambling can undo nor fix all those decades of neglect and mismanagement. But guess who they blame and call for resignations from? The Republicans, of course, because they did not have the demanded magical fixes to the crises.

UPNorthWolf on January 16, 2016 at 9:28 PM

“Maybe the people at the Publically owned treatment works were told there was not chemistry in their job either.”

That’s a whole different scandal in Flint.

Like I have said, this goes farther than a few months.

No one is going to be talking about this in June.

wytshus on January 16, 2016 at 9:34 PM

Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders took the obvious route which many other members of his party and assorted liberal activists have done…

If these Socialists gain much more power, we’ll all be standing in line for our daily gallon of water and Soylent crackers.

Dr. ZhivBlago on January 17, 2016 at 2:07 AM

Perhaps the chronic condition of lead contamination in Flint’s water supply explains Michael Moore?

Another Drew on January 17, 2016 at 2:30 AM

If Governor Snyder did resign, it would be no loss to anyone. He’s been an Assistant Democrat since he took office, pushing the Republican-majority legislature to raise taxes repeatedly, ram through Medicaid expansion, veto voter ID reforms and gun “ban” zone removals, etc., etc. The only reason he won the primary in 2009 is because there were three conservatives running against him that split that vote. I’d jump at the chance to sign a recall petition against him. Shed no tears for this double-talking Ann Arbor liberal.

BirnamWood on January 17, 2016 at 5:32 AM

I propose the EPA use toxic water ice to make their martinis from now on. Talk about a perfect “dirty martini”.

Indiana Jim on January 17, 2016 at 9:20 AM

By all means, BURN IT DOWN!!

harumph!!

Lord Whorfin on January 17, 2016 at 9:51 AM

Indiana Jim on January 17, 2016 at 9:20 AM

Excellent suggestion Mr. Jim!

Iamaluckyone on January 17, 2016 at 9:53 AM

Um…how does all that lead get into the water to begin with??

Sherman1864 on January 17, 2016 at 9:57 AM

Okay. Commenters in the know say “leaching.”

Sherman1864 on January 17, 2016 at 10:00 AM

No one at the EPA paid a price for the contamination of the Animas river from the mine flood. They caused it, and no one was even reprimanded, much less fired.

What makes anyone think they will pay any price for this debacle?

iurockhead on January 17, 2016 at 11:16 AM

It is possible to filter out the lead on your home water supply, isn’t it? No point waiting for government fools to resolve things any time soon.

In the meantime, let’s encourage Michael Moore to keep up his hydration regimen.

virgo on January 17, 2016 at 1:46 PM

<a href="http://flintwaterstudy.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Virginia-Tech-FOIA-EPA.pdf"/Those documents seem to have gone 404 of the Virginia Tech server so here. is a direct link.

schmuck281 on January 18, 2016 at 5:41 PM