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Flint Official Receives Punishment for Contaminated Water Crisis: Write a Letter of Apology



Here’s a disturbing fact: residents of Flint, Michigan have not had clean water in three years. The crisis stems from the fact that officials have not replaced the deteriorated pipes that are leaking lead into the water supply—making it undrinkable. Residents have been asked to boil their water, use bottled or rely on filters, but these are temporary solutions for a permanent problem.

According to Boing Boing, Corrine Miller, Michigan’s director of epidemiology at the Department of Health and Human Services, has received punishment for her part in the situation. She oversaw what happened to the people of Flint and will now have to pay for her crimes with….a letter of apology? Yep, she took a plea bargain that meant writing a letter saying sorry to the sick and dying for the harm that she allowed to come to them. However, this was in exchange for her help in prosecuting other high ranking officials.

As it stands, six current and former state workers have been charged in a criminal investigation of the situation. Among them is former chief of the Michigan Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance One Liane Shekter-Smith. She has been accused of misleading the public and hiding evidence of increasing levels of lead in the water supply. While the poor and predominately black residents suffered rashes and Legionnaires’ disease (an extreme type of pneumonia) as a result of the contaminated water officials said was safe to drink (their complaints virtually ignored), the wealthy were allegedly given bottled water at the taxpayers’ expense.

CNN has an informative timeline of events here which revealed that Flint residents filed a  $722 million class action lawsuit against the EPA at the end of January. In seemingly positive news, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says that lead levels in the city’s water tested below the federal limit in a recent six-month study. I’d take that with a grain of salt because they still haven’t completed the task of replacing those bad pipes. Time also has a comprehensive overview of the situation which you can read here.

Obviously, this story is still ongoing so I’ll keep updating as information comes. It’s a shame that it’s taking this long to fix this problem. Would this have happened in a wealthier city?

(via Boing Boing, image via screencap)

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