Mar 28, 2016
The Flint Water Advisory Task Force appointed by Michigan Governor Snyder issued its report: “The Flint water crisis is a story of government failure, intransigence, unpreparedness, delay, inaction, and environmental injustice.... Flint water customers were needlessly and tragically exposed to toxic levels of lead and other hazards through the mismanagement of their water supply.” Truer words were hardly ever spoken!
The report reserves its harshest criticism for the emergency manager and his boss, Rick Snyder. The emergency manager system put Flint under the control of appointed officials who were not accountable to the local population. But they are by no means solely responsible. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services “stubbornly worked to discredit and dismiss others’ attempts to bring the issues of unsafe water, lead contamination, and increased cases of Legionellosis (Legionnaires’ disease) to light.” The Flint Water Department, the Genesee County Health Department, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency all contributed to the problem through neglect, coverups, incompetence, and underfunding.
The report makes clear that the entire government structure, including Republicans and Democrats at the local, state, and national levels, all contributed to poisoning thousands of children with lead and infecting dozens of people with Legionnaire’s disease that killed at least ten.
And the report makes clear that racism played a big role. “Flint residents, who are majority Black or African American and among the most impoverished of any metropolitan area in the United States, did not enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards as that provided to other communities.” In other words, as everyone knows, this never would have happened in an affluent, majority white town.
The report also called out the state for approving a new pipeline, the Karegnondi Water Authority, in an area that already had enough water and that could not afford the new construction.
This report is an indictment of everyone involved. And if they were to draw their own conclusions, they would ask for a legal indictment of them all, from Snyder on down, for murder.