Five Michigan officials charged with manslaughter for Flint water crisis

A hundred residents contracted Legionnaires' disease, and 12 died from it, and a potentially far larger number of children.
By Miriam Griffin | Jun 16, 2017
Five Michigan officials, including the head of the state health department, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the crisis over lead poisoning in drinking water in Flint. The state attorney general's office, who is filing the charges, accuses the officials of allowing the water poisoning to happen by refusing to exercise proper oversight of the water supplies.

"This is a case where there's been a wilful disregard of just using ordinary due diligence," said Todd Flood, special prosecutor for the office of the Michigan attorney general.

A hundred residents contracted Legionnaires' disease, and 12 died from it, and a potentially far larger number of children came down with permanent cognitive defects, after the city switched its water provider from Detroit to the Flint River in hopes of obtaining water at lower cost several years ago. The new water supplies turned out to have extremely high levels of lead and strains of the legionella pathogen.

The whole crisis might never have arisen if the officials in charge had scrutinized the new water supplies and the water-delivery methods while the transfer was under way, the prosecutors argue. They hold the five defendants responsible for errors that include not inspecting the water pipes for corrosion. In addition, they suspect that the officials knew of the adverse health effects in the early stages of the crisis but did nothing to warn consumers.

"I have come to see there are two types of people in this worldthose that give a damn, and those that don't," Schuette said.

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