LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Michigan’s attorney general says he plans to investigate Flint’s water crisis.
The announcement early Friday from the office of Bill Schuette said he’ll seek to determine what, if any, Michigan laws were violated. He said work on the investigation will begin immediately.
“The situation in Flint is a human tragedy in which families are struggling with even the most basic parts of daily life,” Schuette said in a statement. “In 21st century America, no one should have to fear something as basic as turning on the kitchen faucet.”
Federal prosecutors said earlier this month they’re working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on an investigation into problems with lead in Flint’s water supply.
The announcement from Michigan’s attorney general comes just hours after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced he’s asking President Barack Obama to issue an emergency and major disaster declaration.
Flint’s tap water became contaminated with too much lead after the city switched its water supply in 2014 to save money while under state financial management.
For more than a year, water drawn from the Flint River leached lead from old lines into homes after the city switched its drinking water. Exposure to lead can cause behavior problems and learning disabilities in children.
Flint has since returned to Detroit’s system for its water, but officials remain concerned that damage to the pipes caused by the Flint River means that lead could continue to impair supply. They also want to ensure monitoring protocols are properly followed.
The state auditor general and a task force created by Snyder have faulted the Department of Environmental Quality for not requiring Flint to treat the river water for corrosion and belittling the public’s fears. The agency’s director stepped down last month.
The task force also raised concerns about a lack of organization in responding to the disaster.
Snyder, who has also faced criticism, said Monday that the water situation is a “crisis” and last week declared an emergency.
The Republican said that since October, more than 12,000 filters have been distributed, more than 2,000 blood tests have been done — uncovering 43 cases of elevated lead levels — and more than 700 water tests have been conducted.
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