Lawmakers held the first of two Capitol Hill hearings set for this week on the Flint water crisis. For decades, Flint got its water from Lake Huron via Detroit. But in 2014, the city switched to sourcing its water from the polluted Flint River. That water, left without adequate additives to reduce lead leaching from deteriorating and cracked pipes, resulted in widespread lead poisoning of the city’s population. FSRN’s Nell Abram has more.
Congressional hearings into the Flint, Michigan water crisis continue this week. In a fiery session Tuesday, lawmakers took high-level decision makers during the Flint crisis to task, with incisive questions and scathing criticism from both sides of the aisle.
“We are in mid-March 2016 and you don’t get it and you still don’t get it and neither does the EPA administrator. You screwed up and you messed up people’s lives,” U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee co-chair and Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz told then regional EPA administrator responsible for Flint, Dr. Susan Hedman.
In a stunning display of finger-pointing and buck-passing, Hedman deferred all regulatory responsibility for the crisis onto the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, or MDEQ, and denied any retaliation against the EPA scientist who raised a red flag.
For 50 years, Flint’s water came from Detroit’s supply. But in a bid to save money in 2014 the city, then under state-appointed emergency management, switched back to the Flint River. The law requires a corrosion study when changing the source of drinking water. According to Virginia Tech scientist Dr. Marc Edwards, the study was never done and Flint neglected to add chemicals that Detroit’s utility was using to prevent lead leaching.
“So had they done the minimum under the law,” explained Dr. Edwards, “adding the orthophosphates to the Flint River water, which had been done for 50 year under Detroit, the vast majority of these problems including the leaking pipes, the…