Tag Archives: Flint

Shocking New Details Revealed In EPA’s Failure To Stop Flint From Drinking Lead Water

By Michael Bastasch – Environmental Protection Agency officials apparently weren’t willing to “go out on a limb” for Flint, Mich., as it became apparent the city’s water supply had been contaminated with high levels of lead, according to an internal agency memo revealed at a Tuesday congressional hearing.

Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House oversight committee, revealed an internal EPA memo during a hearing Tuesday between agency officials responsible for overseeing clean water operations in Michigan. The September 2015 memo said, “I’m not so sure Flint is the community we want to go out on a limb for.”

The EPA administrator says that Susan Hedman was courageous for resigning,” Chaffetz said in the heearing. “It didn’t take us but a couple hours once we got these memos to find the problem here. you can take down that. Why isn’t flint the community they go to?”

“You know, of all the communities out there, the one that’s having the toughest time is the one that needs the most protection,” Chaffetz said. “You can shake your head and say, oh, yeah, but the EPA had every opportunity to make — make the right move here, and they didn’t… because one of the things that is fundamentally and totally wrong here is they had the information and they would not release it to the public.”

For months, Flint has been grappling with a lead crisis in the city’s water stemming from state regulators failure to apply the correct chemical treatment after the city switched water supplies form Lake Huron to the Flint River. State regulators finally admitted in October 2015 that it had applied the wrong chemical treatment to Flint’s water, resulting in corrosive water leaching lead off old pipes and into people’s drinking water.

[dcquiz] EPA officials, however, knew of the lead leaching for months before the news went public. EPA spent months quietly warning state regulators of the lack of corrosion controls for Flint’s water supplies. The EPA told the state it needed to use chemical treatments to prevent lead lines and plumbing from getting into Flint’s drinking water, but the agency did nothing to publicize its concerns over the city’s water despite the state’s refusal to control against lead poisoning.

The Detroit News reported that EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman said “she sought a legal opinion on whether the EPA could force action, but it wasn’t completed until November.”

Hedman resigned in January 2016 after she was implicated in Flint’s water crisis.

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Beyonce’s Dancers Emphasize Black Panthers, Mario Woods, Black Lives Matter at Super Bowl 50

Beyonce’s politically-charged performance on Sunday, which heavily referenced the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panthers at Super Bowl 50, assisted in showcasing the growing activist movements among the black community.

Her “Formation” performance, voicing racial inequality and police brutality towards the black community while also embracing black femininity, put black America center stage in front of 114.4 million viewers at the Super Bowl. During the performance, dancers made an “X” formation in reference to Malcom X while raising their fists in a black pride salute.

After the performance, some of the dancers— dressed in Black Panther-style berets and in black leather— were pictured raising their fists again, yet this time holding a piece of paper that read “Justice 4 Mario Woods.”

This move followed about 200 protesters who had demonstrated in San Francisco on Jan. 30 for Woods. Protesters were out demanding justice and for San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr to be fired.

Mario Woods was a black man shot dead by by five San Francisco police officers during a confrontation in San Francisco last December.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Woods was shot about fifteen times by five officers. Cell phone footage shows him walking away from the police refusing to drop a knife. Activists have argued that he was mentally ill and that the force used by the officers was unnecessary.

Woods supporters have said the cell phone footage showed that Woods was not an imminent danger and was executed by police in a “firing-squad” style. The SFC reported that “Woods’ mother, Gwendolyn Woods, said he was working on getting his life on track after his stint in prison. He had just gotten his uniform for his new UPS job, she said.”

Last Friday, prominent artist and activist Alicia Keys spoke out in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protesters ahead of the Super Bowl while performing at San Francisco’s free Super Bowl City concert.

“I want you to know that I salute everyone who has the courage and conviction to stand for what’s right. I want to thank you for your commitment to making sure justice is done for Mario Woods. As the mother of two black sons it breaks my heart to see what we’ve been seeing, the trouble’s we’ve been seeing on camera, and all the people that we’ll never see.”

This isn’t the first time Alicia Keys or Beyonce have spoken out in solidarity with the black community and Black Lives Matter. Last year, Beyonce and her husband Jay Z reportedly wired “tens of thousands” of dollars to bail protesters out in Baltimore and Ferguson. Jay Z, along with Roc Nation, also recently donated $1.5 million from Tidal Black Lives Matter and other social justice organizations. This donation was made on February 5th in honor of Trayvon Martin’s birthday, who would have turned 21 had he not been shot by George Zimmerman.

[RELATED: Civil Unrest Breaks out in MO After Cop Kills Unarmed Teen]

Beyonce went on to end her performance with announcing her world tour and a new fund to help the children of Flint, Michigan, during the city’s current water crisis.

Regional EPA Chief Resigns Over Flint Water Crisis

By Andrew Follett – Susan Hedman, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regional administrator responsible for Michigan, resigned Thursday night amid charges she suppressed information showing there were serious issues with Flint’s drinking water.

“EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has accepted given Susan’s strong interest in ensuring that EPA [R]egion 5’s focus remains solely on the restoration of Flint’s drinking water,” an EPA spokeswoman told reporters late Thursday.

“EPA is rife with incompetence and Region 5 is no exception,” Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, wrote in a statement. “Mismanagement has plagued the region for far too long and Ms. Hedman’s resignation is way overdue. The lack of accountability throughout the EPA has allowed problems to fester and crises to explode. ”

EPA water expert Miguel Del Toral identified contamination problems with Flint’s drinking water last February and confirmed the suspicions in April. He authored an internal memo about the problem in June, according to documents obtained by Virginia Tech. The memo was also sent to Flint’s former mayor, Dwayne Walling, but Hedman downplayed Del Toral’s report and brushed aside concerns about high levels of lead in the city’s water.

“The preliminary draft report should not have been released outside the agency,” Hedman wrote to Walling in a July 1st email. “When the report has been revised and fully vetted by EPA management, the findings and recommendations will be shared with the city and DEQ will be responsible for following up with the city.”

The American Civil Liberties Union accused the EPA in October of attempting to suppress information about the crisis. Emails released last Wednesday show that the environmental agency spent months pointing fingers at local and state officials for the lead problem and downplaying concerns.

The corrosive nature of Flint’s drinking water is causing lead from pipes and pathogens to get into the town’s water supply, according to a study by Virginia Tech. Flint is currently dealing with an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, a dangerous infection that usually spreads through a tainted water source.

Nearly two years ago, the state of Michigan decided to save money by switching Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron to a local river. The city of Flint, however, applied the wrong standards for governing drinking water, resulting in a system that did not properly control corrosion. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder activated the National Guard last Tuesday to help distribute bottled water and filters to the 100,000 residents of Flint.

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Flint, Mich. Mayor Calls State of Emergency Over City Water System’s Lead Content

Newly-elected Flint, Mich. Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency on Monday over elevated lead content levels, connected to a problem with the city’s tap water system, that have been found in blood tests of local children.

A September study by Hurley Medical Center found a “rise in blood lead levels of children less than 5 years old living within Flint zip codes 48501-48507 after the switch to Flint River water as the source.

The city disconnected from Detroit’s water system in 2014 and began drawing tap water from the Flint River in an effort to save on costs. The switch led to a rise in complaints by residents saying that their tap water had taken on a foul odor and cloudy appearance.

[RELATED: Massive Environmental Damage in Brazil Following Collapse of Two Dams]

On Oct. 8, in the wake of Hurley Medical Center’s study, Republican Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder provided $12 million from the state’s budget to assist Flint in reconnecting to Detroit’s water system. Gov. Snyder’s press secretary David Murray told The Washington Post that even though Flint’s water system has been disconnected from the Flint River, “some families with lead plumbing in their homes or service connections could experience higher levels of lead in the water that comes out of their faucets” due to corrosion remaining in the system.

Lead at any level can be associated with decreases in IQ, behavioral disorders, even an association with certain juvenile delinquency as these children get older,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services chief medical executive Dr. Eden Wells said in comments to CBS News.

Parents of children with elevated blood-lead levels have filed a federal class-action lawsuit against state and city officials for swapping their safe Detroit-supplied water with less-expensive-but-toxic Flint River water.

[RELATED: Food Safety, Environmental Groups Demand Investigation into USDA]

I am requesting that all things be done necessary to address this state of emergency declaration, effective immediately,” Mayor Karen Weaver said on Monday according to MLive. Her state of emergency declaration seeks state and federal funding to deal with problems that she feels will arise in the future due to the exposure of local children to lead in tap water. She called on the federal government to send funds for special education, mental health, and criminal justice resources to assist in addressing those issues.