3 Officials Finally Charged in Flint Water Crisis

On Wednesday, news broke that felony criminal charges were finally going to be brought against three officials for their role in the ongoing Flint, Mich., water crisis — with more yet to come.

Michigan’s Attorney General, Bill Schuette, alleges that two state officials from the Department of Environmental Quality, Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby, violated the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act. His office found that the pair failed to add anti-corrosive agents to the city’s drinking water, causing large amounts of toxic lead to leech into the water supply.

They’ve also been accused of attempting to cover their tracks by manipulating water samples to show much lower levels of lead than were actually present, putting the city’s residents at risk.

The third official is Michael Glasgow, Flint’s water quality supervisor. He’s also being charged for tampering with test results, along with misdemeanor willful neglect of duty.

Glasgow’s attorney has already issued a strong statement against the charges, claiming that his client was “strongly opposed the transfer of the source of water for the City of Flint from the Detroit Water System to the Flint River” and that he had willingly met with investigators from the Attorney General’s office on numerous occasions to aid their investigation. His explanation for his part in the cover-up seems to be that he was merely following orders, a defense that is not likely to go over very well in court.

Each official faces a four to five year maximum sentence in prison, along with a fine ranging from $5,000-10,000. That may seem like a slap on the wrist, considering that their negligence may have exposed more than 8,600 children under the age of six to toxic amounts of lead, potentially causing permanent damage to their developing brains and nervous systems.

While the criminal case is ongoing, the state employees charged have been suspended without pay, and Glasgow has been placed on administrative leave by the city.

The charges are just the latest development in Schuette’s ongoing investigation into the crisis, and he says that they are “only the beginning.” He’s hinted that high-level charges may still be filed, saying, “There’s no target, and no one’s off the table.”

Many Flint residents remain hopeful that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder will face repercussions for his role in the crisis — although Snyder denies he had any part in the decisions that led to the water contamination, or in the subsequent attempts to hide it. That contradicts a recent report commissioned by his own office, which found corruption on every level of government involved in the crisis, pinning blame on the Governor’s office, city and county agencies, and even the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

While the charges are a welcome development, for Flint residents, they do little to change the difficulties they face at home. Some parents may have to wait years before the full health effects on their children become clear. While the dangerous lead pipes in the city are beginning to be replaced, it could take about a year for all of the affected service lines to be replaced — and that’s only if the city is able to secure the $55 million in funding necessary from the state of Michigan.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

79 comments

william Miller
william Miller1 years ago

thanks

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jane M.
Jane M2 years ago

THANKS SO MUCH FOR SHARING THIS STORY!!!

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New G.
W. C2 years ago

Thank you.

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Kris S.
Kris S2 years ago

Snyder needs to be charged. There is proof he knew, and did nothing. Clean water and clean air, should not be negotiable. These people that were contaminated, will have to live with this the rest of their lives. How sad for these innocent people. Our children deserve better! People before profits!

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Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Danuta Watola
Danuta W2 years ago

thank you for the great article

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Marie W.
Marie W2 years ago

Good to see.

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Veronica Danie
.2 years ago

Thank You!

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Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R2 years ago

tyfs

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