Six More Officials Charged in Flint Water Crisis Cover-Up
Six more state workers in Michigan have been charged with felony misdemeanors in connection to the Flint water crisis that came to a head last year.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette claims that workers from both the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Environmental Quality made separate attempts to conceal important information about the levels of lead in the town's municipal water supply last July.
DHHS employees Nancy Peeler, Robert Scott, and Corrine Miller allegedly downplayed reports showing a dramatic increase in the levels of lead contamination in the blood of Flint children from 2014 to 2015. Lead poisoning is linked to many health issues, especially for young children; research shows that the heavy metal may make children seven times more likely to drop out of school and six times more likely to become implicated in the juvenile justice system.
Around the same time, DEQ officials Adam Rosenthal, Stephen Busch, and Michael Prysby allegedly altered a report showing dangerously high levels of lead in the water system. The city of Flint switched its municipal water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River in 2014 in efforts to save money, but the outdated pipe system of the river supply proved to leak large amounts of lead into the tap water system.
All six workers have been charged with counts of misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty. Some also received counts of conspiracy or tampering with evidence, too.
"Their offenses vary but there is an overall theme and repeated pattern," Schuette said. "Each of these individuals attempted to bury, or cover up, to downplay or hide information that contradicted their own narrative, their story. Their story was there was nothing wrong with Flint water and it was perfectly safe to use."
Schuette and residents alike hope that the charges will result in eventual justice for the people of Flint. "The victims are real people, families who have been lied to by government officials and been treated as expendable," Schuette said. "But when our investigation is completed and our prosecutions are successful -- and we believe they will be -- then accountability and justice will be delivered to families of Flint and families of Michigan."
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