Michigan Governor Rick Snyder apologized in connection with Flint water scandal and one of his top appointees, Dan Wyant resigned as Director of the Department of Environment Quality. Brad Wurfel, the spokesman of the department also resigned.
The initial findings of the Flint Water Task Force showed that elevated levels of lead in the drinking water of the city back in June. The state did not take action until October when blood testing among children in the city showed high lead levels.
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Flint changed the source of its drinking water supplied by Detroit from Lake Huron to the Flint River to save money. Residents complained about the discoloration, smell, and taste of their drinking water immediately after the switch in the water source. Researchers eventually found that the lead poisoning among children in the city was connected to the switch.
Lead poisoning at high levels could cause learning disabilities, seizures, coma, and death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a statement, Gov. Snyder said, “I want the Flint community to know how very sorry I am that this has happened. And I want all Michigan citizens to know that we will learn from this experience because Flint is not the only city that has an aging infrastructure.”
Gov. Snyder allocated $10 million to address the Flint Water crisis
State Sen. Jim Ananich (D-Flint) slammed the culture of the Department of Environment Quality and noted that workers were more concerned about following rules than informing the public about potential problems.
He said, “When you have lead in the water, I don’t care if you follow the rules or not: You need to notify the public first.”
Gov, Snyder said he knows that Flint citizens are angry because of the Flint water crisis, and they want more than an apology.
According to Gov. Snyder, he took steps to ensure a culture of openness and trust, and the state already allocated $10 million to test the water, distribute water filters, and provide other assistance to the community.
“These are only initial steps – we fully expect to take more actions following the recommendations of our task force. When it comes to matters of health and quality of life, we’re committed to doing everything we can to protect the well-being of our citizens,” said Governor Snyder.
Leadership and personnel change not enough
Furthermore, the Governor said he accepted the resignation of Mr. Wyant and decided to make changes at the Department of Environmental Quality to address the problems identified by the Flint Water Task Force.
Governor Snyder emphasized that changing the leadership and personnel in the department is not enough to resolve Flint water crisis. He directed both the departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services to invite every external scientist who worked on the issue, to become a partner and help improve Flint water.
“Let’s share research on water and blood lead level testing so we can arrive at accurate and mutually supported conclusions. Together, we should work to affirm that we’re using the very best testing protocols to ensure Flint residents have safe drinking water and that we’re taking steps to protect their health over the short and long term,” said Gov. Snyder.