FLINT (WWJ/AP) – More than 4,000 residents of the city of Flint — concerned over contaminated water — took part in a “Telephone Town Hall” Wednesday night, organized by Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee.
Question: “My question is about the people that did the testing and reassured the public that the water was safe to drink. I’d like to see charges brought up against those people because what they did was criminal,” said one resident at the meeting.
“The issue of accountability is really the most important question we turn to once we have resolved the immediate crisis but I think your point about further accountability is one that is quite valid and should be pursued and I will do what I can to make sure that it is,” said Kildee.
“There was incompetence at the very least, there was incompetence,” said Kildee. “It could be much worse than that but it is hard not to conclude that the people who are responsible for one of the most important fundamental aspects of a civil society – the ability to deliver clean water for people to drink – seemed more consumed by whether or not they were going to look bad than actually doing their job.”
Question: “People were afraid to bathe in the water that they got in the city of Flint and I just wonder was there any danger of someone having some ill-effect from just bathing in the water directly from the tap?”
“So, lead is not going to get in your body from contact from bathing or washing,” answered Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Director of Flint’s Hurley Medical Center.
Hanna-Attisha is credited with bringing the issue of lead contamination in the city’s drinking water to light last year.
Kildee, a Flint Democrat, has called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate what he calls the state of Michigan’s “incompetence” in response to the crisis — after elevated levels of lead were found in Flint’s drinking water last year.
The city of Flint has reconnected to Detroit’s water system in an effort to resolve the health emergency.
Flint, a city of about 99,000 people, switched from Detroit’s water system while under state emergency financial management. The Flint River was supposed to be an interim source until the city could join a new system getting water from Lake Huron that is scheduled to be completed next year. But residents complained about the taste, smell and appearance of water coming into their homes and businesses from the Flint River.
Officials long maintained that the water met safety standards. But corrosive water was drawing lead from aging pipes, and the state recently corroborated findings of elevated lead levels in children and disclosed higher lead amounts in three Flint schools. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the GOP-led Legislature earlier this month approved $9.3 million in aid to address the crisis.
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