Common Dreams - April 16, 2020
VICE on Thursday published an "astounding" and "important" exclusive report on how Rick Snyder, a Republican who served as Michigan's governor from 2011 to 2019, "knew about Flint's toxic water—and lied about it."
The report, based on a year-and-a-half investigation, comes almost six years after an emergency manager appointed by Snyder switched Flint's water supply from Detroit's system to the Flint River. Since that move on April 25, 2014, city residents have endured health consequences resulting from a deadly Legionella pneumophila bacterial outbreak and exposure to heavy metals and cancer-causing contaminants.
As Jordan Chariton and Jenn Dize reported Thursday:
Hundreds of confidential pages of documents obtained by VICE, along with emails and interviews, reveal a coordinated, five-year cover-up overseen by Snyder and his top officials to prevent news of Flint's deadly water from going public—while there was still time to save lives—and then limit the damage after the crisis made global headlines.
All told, the waterborne bacterial disease may have killed at least 115 people in 2014 and 2015, and potentially more whose pneumonia wasn't officially considered Legionnaires' disease, the illness caused by Legionella. In addition to the outbreak, Flint's water supply was contaminated with lead and other heavy metals, harmful bacteria, carcinogens, and other toxic components. This wreaked havoc on Flint residents, leaving them with a laundry list of illnesses, including kidney and liver problems, severe bone and muscle pain, gastrointestinal problems, loss of teeth, autoimmune diseases, neurological deficiencies, miscarriages, Parkinson's disease, severe fatigue, seizures, and volatile mood disorders.
Beyond this, the long-term effects of heavy-metal poisoning takes years to develop, meaning many ill residents' conditions are worsening as the years go on. Many have said they still rely on bottled water to avoid using the water that comes through their pipes and into their homes, schools, and businesses.
The report detailed actions of local and state officials both leading up to and during the public health crisis, which continues today. It is based on interviews and documents from a criminal investigation of Snyder's administration that was led by special prosecutor Todd Flood from 2016 until last year, when newly elected state Attorney General Dana Nessel fired Flood and others.
The prosecution team led by Flood charged 15 Flint and Michigan officials with various crimes; seven of those cases were resolved with plea agreements. In January 2019, Nessel appointed Fadwa Hammoud as the state's solicitor general and assigned her to take over the Flint criminal cases. ...
See full report at Common Dreams