Two regulators and a Flint water treatment supervisor are charged in connection to the Flint water crisis on Wednesday. The charges against them range from evidence tampering, other felonies and misdemeanours.
The charges were filed months after the officials accepted that a series of bad decision had caused the Flint water crisis. Two Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) employees and a Flint water treatment supervisor have been charged following an investigation by the office of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, news.com.au reported.
There are six charges against MDEQ engineer Michael Prysby. The charges include misconduct in office, tampering with evidence, conspiracy to tamper with evidence, and engaging in treatment violation.
According to RT, Stephen Busch, the drinking water office’s district supervisor for Lansing and Jackson, has five charges against him which include misconduct in office, conspiracy to tamper with evidence, tampering with evidence and engaging in treatment violations.
Flint’s water quality supervisor, Michael Glasgow, faces two charges. The charges against him are tampering with evidence and willful neglect of duty as a public servant. Glasgow testified in one of the hearings that Michael Prysby told him phosphate was not needed to prevent lead corrosion from pipes.
The lawyers of the three officials were not available for comment.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder acknowledged the crisis only after the tests last year which revealed a high level of lead in children. The governor then appointed a task force which observed that the crisis was a “case of environmental disaster.”
“I have said all along that bureaucrats making bad decisions failed the people of Flint. The charges filed today raise what happened to a whole new level and we take that very seriously,” Snyder said. Further investigation by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette will unfold charges against more individuals.
The charges have been filed one day after a federal judge dismissed a class action lawsuit over the contaminated water which indicated that other such lawsuits could also be dismissed at the federal level.
David Uhlmann, a law professor at the University of Michigan and former chief of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section, said that between 2005 and 2014, he could not find a single criminal charge under federal Safe Drinking Water Act in federal court which involves public drinking-water system.
“What happened in Flint is a terrible tragedy, but that does not mean that state and city officials acted with the criminal intent required to sustain a conviction,” Uhlmann said according to the Wall Street Journal.
Recently, Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, during their heated debate about the economy, expressed their views on the Flint water crisis.