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Email Dump Shows Flint, Michigan Mayor Knew About Toxic Water Nearly A Year Ago

As far back as February 2015, the governor’s administration was informed of issues with Flint’s water

by Diedre Fulton, Common Dreams:

Redacted emails released Wednesday by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder show that his administration was informed of problems with Flint’s water almost a year ago, many months before the embattled governor or his staff begrudgingly admitted to bearing any responsibility for poisoning a city—or for fixing the problem.

A background memo sent to the governor on February 1, 2015, “dismissed the pleas of Flint’s then-mayor Dayne Walling for state assistance, saying that the mayor had ‘seized on public panic … to ask the state for loan forgiveness and more money for infrastructure improvement’,” the Guardian reports from Detroit.

According to FOX2 Detroit, the email says the governor and Walling “had a telephone conversation and the mayor has pledged to work together on solutions.” Furthermore, it adds that Flint Representative Sheldon Neeley had “sent the governor a letter, saying that his constituents are on the verge of civil unrest” due to the water issue.

Also included in the backgrounder were statements from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, listing three factors affecting the appearance of water in Flint. CNN reports:

“It’s the Flint River,” it said first. “With hard water, you get a different flavor and feel. It’s why General Motors suspended use of Flint Water—it was rusting their parts.”

Second, “the system is old. Flint has more than 500 miles of water pipes. More than half of those pipe miles are more than 75 years old. Much of it is cast iron. Hard water can react with cast iron and exacerbates the rusty factor, which creates that brown water that angry residents were holding up in jugs for the media cameras last week.”

And third, “Flint is old. Many of the homes served by the system are old. Brown water complaints may also be attributable to cast iron pipes in customers’ service connection to the city lines,” the backgrounder read.

“This should have been a red flag,” FOX2 points out. “The water was rusting GM’s parts—but safe to drink?”

In fact, the cost-saving measure of switching the city’s drinking water source from Detroit to the polluted Flint River had for months corroded the inside of pipes in thousands of households across the city, leaching chemicals including lead into the water supply.

As the Guardian notes: “Soon after the memo was sent to Snyder, researchers and journalists uncovered a fact that is now well-established: as a result of the state’s failure to properly apply federal standards in treating the Flint river, thousands of residents have been exposed to lead, a neurotoxin that can produce long-term health effects, particularly in young children.”

Wednesday’s document dump spans 274 pages and includes communications on Flint water issues, public safety, and lawsuits. However, according to MLive, “only seven emails sent by Snyder on the city’s water system were included in the distribution.”

But emails from his staffers outline concerns that the issue was being “politicized and that the state’s responsibility for the crisis was being exaggerated,” theDetroit Free Press reports, even as they show attempts to shift the blame.

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