Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced on Tuesday that four more government officials will be charged in connection to the Flint water crisis, two worked for the city and two others who were state-appointed emergency managers.
Schuette’s announcement brings the total number of state or city officials in Michigan charged with a crime to 13. The state formally acknowledged the issue of dangerously high levels of lead in the water in 2015, however the public was complaining of issues since 2014. The four individuals now face an array of felony charges that include conspiracy, and misconduct in office.
Flint began having problems with lead in the water after the city switched their supply source, under the supervision of the state-appointed emergency managers. The city had previously bought their drinking water from Detroit, but ended the contract.
The central Michigan town then began to treat raw water from the Flint river at the Flint Water Treatment Plant. The water was improperly treated for corrosion, which allowed lead to leak into the supply after flowing through the city’s outdated pipes.
Although the attorney general is not saying the individuals personally benefited from the switch, Schuette believes many were driven by cutting costs without regard to the consequences.
“All too prevalent and very evident during the course of this investigation has been a fixation on finances and balance sheets,” said Schuette. “This fixation has cost lives. This fixation came with the expense of protecting the health and safety of Flint. It’s all about numbers over people, money over health.”
Scuette is referring to the 12 people who died from Legionnaire’s Disease, which is believed to have been caused by the river water. Exposure to high amounts of lead also results in lower IQs and learning disabilities in children.
According to The Hill, Schuette, a Republican, is expected to run for governor of Michigan in 2018.
[Michigan Radio] [Detroit Free Press] [CNN] [ABC News] [The Hill] [Photo courtesy Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press via Mother Jones]