21 Jan

Flint water crisis: emails reveal governor Snyder informed of problems a year ago

According to newly released emails concerns over the water were dismissed by officials who blamed mayor for exploiting public panic

The McGlynn: This case screams for a criminal justice solution, not a merely political one. Thousands of children have been permanently brain-damaged as the result of the Governor’s criminal negligence. Ten people have died from Legionnaires Disease from inhaling the fumes of the criminal’s water.

Just think if this was a terrorist attack. Our country would be shut down, panic would dominate, a state of emergency would be declared and war drums would deafen our senses.

The criminal Snyder knew and did nothing. The crickets were louder than this Governor.
All he basically says is “oops! Sorry. I will take charge and fix it. Your government will protect you”


A protester poses for photo with his sign about Flint’s water crisis. Michigan governor Rick Snyder has been accused of ignoring concerns over quality of the city’s water supply.

A protester poses for photo with his sign about Flint’s water crisis. Michigan governor Rick Snyder has been accused of ignoring concerns over quality of the city’s water supply. Photograph: Junfu Han/AP

Michigan governor Rick Snyder was informed of water quality issues in the city of Flint’s supply as early as February 2015, according to emails released to the public on Wednesday, but his administration struck a dismissive tone, saying the problems would eventually “fade in the rearview”.

A background memo sent to the governor on 1 February dismissed the pleas of Flint’s then-mayor Dayne Walling for state assistance, saying that the mayor had “seized on public panic … to ask the state for loan forgiveness and more money for infrastructure improvement”.

Flint’s water supply was contaminated by lead, poisoning thousands of residents, after the source of the city’s drinking water was switched from Detroit to the Flint river in April 2014. Water from the Flint had for months corroded lead from the inside of water pipes in thousands of households across the city.

The memo, which was among 274 pages of emails related to the city’s crisis, also said that it was “clear that folks in Flint are concerned about other aspects of their water – taste, smell and color being among the top complaints”, but said that the Safe Drinking Water Act “does not regulate aesthetic values of water”. The words “does not” were underlined.

Though the February memo does not specifically mention lead contamination, it does discuss the water quality problems in Flint extensively, including how the city’s water had dangerously high levels of a contaminant called total trihalomethanes, which can lead to liver or kidney issues. Exposure wasn’t a “top health concern,” the memo stated, as it only poses “a public health concern with chronic, long-term exposure”.

It also talked about corrosion inside of cast-iron pipes – the same process which led to the lead contamination – which is mentioned as a cause of “the brown water that angry residents were holding up in jugs for media cameras last week”. The memo continued: “discoloration is not an indicator of water quality or water safety, but we recognize that nobody likes it.”

According to David Murray, a spokesperson for Snyder, the 1 February email was part of preparations for a press conference to announce additional state resources to help address concerns about the odour and colour of the water in Flint. Murray added that the governor “did not become aware of the severity of the problem with lead until October 1,” and that when he did he responded “aggressively the next day.”

The 1 February memo to Snyder concluded: “Another key thing to remember is that once the city connects to the new [water] system in 2016, this issue will fade in the rearview”, referring to a planned change to Lake Huron as a source.

But later that month, an EPA employee raised concerns for the first time with the Michigan department of environmental quality about the city’s water source, the Flint river, and high levels of lead in water – the beginnings of a crisis Snyder wouldn’t publicly acknowledge until several months later.

Soon after the memo was sent to Snyder, researchers and journalists uncovered a fact that is now well-established: as a result of the state’s failure to properly apply federal standards in treating the Flint river, thousands of residents have been exposed to lead, a neurotoxin that can produce long-term health effects, particularly in young children.

Even then, the dismissive approach taken toward Flint’s water quality was prevalent among key environmental officials. In a 31 August email sent by a state environmental employee to EPA officials, the growing concerns over lead in Flint were severely downplayed as an issue the city was “probably not focusing on.”

“[The] city has bigger issues on their agenda right now,” the state employee wrote in the email, which was obtained by the Guardian through a public records request, separately from the public release on Wednesday.

On 26 September, Snyder’s then-chief of staff Dennis Muchmore emailed the governor to say that Flint’s water “certainly has occasional less than savory aspects like color”, but said that the “anti everything group” had turned to the lead content, and that “of course, some of the Flint people respond by looking for someone to blame.”

A local pediatrician eventually uncovered elevated blood lead levels of Flint children after the city started using the Flint river. But officials vehemently disputed the findings until, in October, Snyder said the situation was far graver than he initially understood, and announced a $12m plan to switch Flint back to its previous supply with Detroit.

Snyder, a Republican and former businessman, has said he accepts full responsibility for the crisis, emphasizing that point in his State of the State speech on Tuesday.

“We will not stop working for the people of Flint until every person has clean water, every single day, no matter what,” the governor said on Tuesday.

In the speech, the governor promised a $28m additional aid package to expedite recovery efforts in Flint and said he would release his emails from 2014 and 2015 on the city – but not 2013, when the decision was made to use the local river.

President Barack Obama, who this week met the newly-elected Flint mayor, approved Snyder’s request to declare a federal emergency in the city and provide an additional $5m in financial assistance. The governor has also activated the National Guard and requested help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“If I was a parent up there, I would be beside myself that my kids’ health could be at risk,” Obama said in Detroit on Wednesday. “And that’s why over the weekend I declared a federal emergency in Flint to send more resources on top of what we’ve already put on the ground.”

We failed people of Flint over contaminated water, says The Criminal  – video

During his state of the state address, The Criminal Rick Snyder apologizes for the contaminated drinking water in the city of Flint and says, ‘I’m sorry, and I will fix it. No citizen of this great state should endure this kind of catastrophe. Government failed you.’ The water supply in the city of 100,000 was last year found to have been poisoned with extremely high levels of lead

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