Democratic politicians and celebrities alike are calling for re-opening the investigation into Flint, Michigan's drinking water, and the lead levels contained therein. Republican governor Rick Snyder had declared the crisis over, and the water "restored," but exhaustive investigating reporting by Jordan Chariton, and the residents he and the group "Status Coup" interviewed, say otherwise.
In determining that lead levels in the water were down to safe drinking levels, Snyder's officials committed several violations that completely tainted the results in their favor. (IMAGINE MY SHOCKED FACE.) They instructed residents to run their water before testing it — a practice called "flushing" — which has the effect of giving a lower (often acceptable) parts-per-billion rating of lead in the water. Water is supposed to be tested after having stood in the pipes for 6 hours or more, to determine how much lead from the pipes has leached into the drinking water. Running the water like this, "flushing" before it's tested, makes the test useless.
Additionally, according to Chariton's reporting, Gov. Snyder's officials were also committing the violation of entering the residents' apartments to perform the tests themselves. Worse, it appears they lied about having conducted the tests themselves, as well. Who doesn't expect a little gaslighting from the ones who harm us, right?
But Michigan’s testing violations weren’t limited to the improper flushing in homes Status Coup uncovered. The EPA also said that Michigan state personnel were not supposed to be sampling for residents for testing meant to comply with EPA lead regulations.
That flushed test produced 2 ppb of lead, well under the EPA’s 15 ppb action level. Despite an MDEQ official taking the sample, the paperwork listed Wakes as having collected it.
When miscarriages, cancer, learning disabilities, poisoning, and death result from the grift and greed of the government elected to serve us, it's time for an in-depth investigation and, I daresay, consequences.
Recently, it was revealed that Michigan state officials were aware of high levels of Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl [PFOA or PFAS] chemicals in the Flint River before switching to it as the city’s primary drinking water source. But it seems the state didn’t relay this to Flint city officials before officially switching to the Flint River in April 2014 (the state says those chemicals were found downstream from Flint and didn’t affect Flint). These chemicals, used in the manufacturing of non-stick cookware, have been shown to cause cancer, thyroid, and liver damage. In February 2017, DuPont and Chemours paid a $671 million settlement for thousands of lawsuits filed against them for PFOA contamination in the Ohio River Valley.
This is why powerful activists like Alyssa Milano and Erin Brokovitch, and Democrats like Ro Khanna (D-CA) and others are calling for a renewed investigation into the handling of this crisis. Flint has never been far from the minds of certain Democrats in Congress, though. Here is what Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings had to say on Friday about Gov. Snyder:
"I'm not done with Flint," U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings said Friday at the U.S. Capitol.
Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, is set to take the helm of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in January, which will give him subpoena power and the authority to call hearings and reopen the panel's investigation into the Flint lead-contaminated water crisis.
"It is very difficult for me to sleep at night with what happened and continues to happen to Flint — that wonderful municipality," Cummings told The Detroit News.
"I know that much has been done with regard to Attorney General Bill Schuette, but there are still questions as to whether the governor was completely honest with us when he appeared before our committee. I would love to at some point — soon — see him come back to address the committee's concerns."
Cummings said he's not sure yet when that could happen, but "we cannot let go."
"We must do everything in our power to make sure something like this never happens again, and we must also make sure the people of Flint are not forgotten," Cummings added.
I would be willing to bet Rep. Cummings will be taking this new information about tampering with the tests and improper instructions and behavior of Snyder's officials into full account when he regains control of the gavel. Just to be sure, though, since he's my Congressman, I'll be giving him a call. You can call or email your reps, too. Don't be shy. These people are elected by us, paid by us, and are supposed to serve us. Not poison us.