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Kennedy writes: "The Environmental Protection Agency had the authority and information to issue an emergency order protecting residents of Flint, Mich., from lead-tainted water a full seven months before it did so, an EPA internal investigation has concluded."

A government watchdog's report says Flint residents' exposure to lead in city drinking water could have been stopped months earlier by federal regulators. (photo: Carlos Osorio/AP)
A government watchdog's report says Flint residents' exposure to lead in city drinking water could have been stopped months earlier by federal regulators. (photo: Carlos Osorio/AP)


Watchdog: EPA Action to Protect Flint Residents From Lead Was Delayed 7 Months

By Merrit Kennedy, NPR

21 October 16

 

he Environmental Protection Agency had the authority and information to issue an emergency order protecting residents of Flint, Mich., from lead-tainted water a full seven months before it did so, an EPA internal investigation has concluded.

"It is clear that EPA intervention was delayed," the report from the EPA's inspector general states. "These situations should generate a greater sense of urgency."

By June 2015, the EPA regional office "had information that the city of Flint exceeded the lead level at which corrosion control is required, and that Flint was not using a corrosion inhibitor." It also knew that testing showed high levels of lead in at least four homes. Finally, the regional office "knew that the state and local authorities were not acting quickly to protect human health."

That is enough to issue an emergency order, the report says. Such action "could have required the city and state to provide alternative water supplies to affected residents, study the extent and severity of lead contamination within the water system, or immediately begin corrective actions to reduce and eliminate lead contamination in the drinking water system."

And yet, the EPA did not issue an order until January 2016. According to the report, local authorities "believed that the state of Michigan's actions to address the Flint situation barred formal federal action." But that was incorrect – the Safe Drinking Water Act states that the EPA can take action if "state actions are deemed insufficient."

The watchdog's report concludes that the agency "needs to clarify for its employees how its emergency authority can and should be used to intervene in a public health threat."

The EPA is among the people and groups under fire for the slow response to Flint's lead-laced water. An independent task force concluded earlier this year that a state environmental agency called the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality bears primary responsibility, though others are also to blame.

The problem began when Flint switched to a new water source in 2014 for cost reasons. But water from that new source, the Flint River, was not adequately treated with corrosion controls and caused lead from the city's pipes to leach into the drinking water supply. And as we've reported, the city switched back to its original water supply late last year, but it was too late to reverse the damage to the pipes.

The city is in the process of treating its water system and recent test results show that lead levels have improved.

High levels of lead are especially dangerous for children and can cause "learning disabilities, behavioral problems and mental retardation," the World Health Organization said.

Catching up on the lead crisis in Flint? Our timeline takes you through how the public health disaster unfolded, step by step.

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0 # lorenbliss 2016-10-21 22:25
Another classic example of how the Obama Regime "protects" cities with African-America n majority populations -- with exactly the same genocidal opportunism we saw demonstrated in the Bush Regime's post-Katrina "protection" of New Orleans.

Where then -- from the perspective of those of us who are black, Hispanic, First Nations or merely chronically impoverished -- is there any difference, particularly in the body count, between what the Democratic (sic) Party does to us and what the Republican Party does to us?

Really, what does it matter who wins the White House, the wanna-be Hitler named Trump or the wanna-be Hitler named Hillary? We the (lower-income) People are dead either way.
 
 
-1 # LionMousePudding 2016-10-23 03:29
Obama was responsible for this, how?
 
 
0 # Patriot 2016-10-30 01:32
Duh, he's responsible for EVERYTHING his administration does--or fails to do.

Remember the sign on Truman's desk? "The buck stops here." Ought to have that one engraved on the wall the president's desk faces, in letters about a foot high.
 
 
+1 # Henry 2016-10-22 07:51
(Dismal outlook on life.) The EPA is obviously over its head or worse. Speaking of heads, Gina McCarthy should be replaced with someone who has the will to protect ANYTHING, and then that person should clean house. In the words of our most ignorant presidential candidate, Gina is "a disaster."
 
 
+2 # lfeuille 2016-10-22 17:29
How much is Gina and how much is her boss?
 
 
0 # Patriot 2016-10-30 01:36
Dunno, but I do know that I sign at least one petition each week, demanding that she do her JOB and protect the environment, or some plant or animal (inlcuding us mere humans) that lives in the environment. Next one I have to sign to try to force her to do what's she's being very handsomely paid to do, I think my comments will begin, "Hi, Gina, it's me again, writing to bug you, yet again, to do the work you're LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE for doing...."
 
 
0 # Patriot 2016-10-30 01:49
This is an absolutely appalling report. If the water in question had been piped into the most exclusive homes in Flint, you can bet your backside that action would have been taken IMMEDIATELY.

Of all the lame excuses: Employees didn't know they had the authority--AND the responsibility- -to act immediately? And nobody in Washington got on a telephone--or a plane--to light a fire under them?

Residents raised bloody hell for almost two years, yet not one damned official could be bothered to DO something? Folks, if you had any doubt about economic--and racial--discrim ination, you've just looked squarely into its face.

Now consider the faces of all the children and adults affected by drinking, bathing in, and eating food cooked in lead-loaded water for two years. I hope you're hanging your head in shame, because I sure am. Every last one of us should have been bombarding our president and congress with DEMANDS that something be done, IMMEDIATELY. I hope I never have to face one of the residents of that part of Flint. I could not look them in the eye.
 

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