Task force finds lays blame for water crisis on MDEQ and MDHHS - WNEM TV 5

Task force finds lays blame for water crisis on MDEQ and MDHHS

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This 2015 image shows a sample of Flint's water. (Source:WNEM) This 2015 image shows a sample of Flint's water. (Source:WNEM)
LANSING, MI (WNEM) -

Chris Kolb is a member of the Flint Water Advisory Task Force.

“From a regulatory standpoint, to a protection of human health and the environment standpoint, [the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality] missed the boat completely,” Kolb said.

On Wednesday, the task force released its findings and it is laying the blame squarely on the shoulders of the MDEQ and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“They didn't analyze it in a timely fashion, and frankly, when they first analyzed it, they didn't even understand it,” said Ken Sikkema, a task force member.

The task force found that MDEQ worked against efforts to bring the lead contamination and possible Legionnaire's outbreak link to light.

And they failed to put corrosion control measures in place after the switch to water from the Flint River.

The task force blamed the state health department for simply failing to protect public safety.

They also said the governor's office did not take steps to reverse the poor choices made by Flint's appointed emergency manager.

They concluded that the Flint water treatment plant was not prepared for the corrosiveness of the river water.

While many of Flint residents and some lawmakers said Gov. Rick Snyder is to blame for the crisis, this task force said it's more the people who advised him that was the problem, but not entirely.

“Every time it came up, every time they were asked about it, they were told it was solved, and another issue would come up,” Kolb said. “At some point though, you have to say, wait a second. My gut's saying something's wrong.”

Going forward, changes in communication and regulation are recommended by the task force, especially making sure the proper corrosion controls are in place.

“No one asked the question, what will happen if we don't have corrosion control in place?” Kolb said. “The answer is exactly what happened in Flint. And ultimately the corrosiveness of that water leeched out lead into the system and people were exposed to it.”

The task force was created by Snyder back in October 2015 to investigate the water crisis. Their preliminary findings were highlighted during the governor’s first email release.

Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) issued the following statement on the report:

“The Governor’s appointed task force today concluded what many in Flint already know: primary responsibility for the water crisis lies with the state of Michigan and the Governor’s own policies. The independent investigation found that Governor Snyder’s appointed emergency financial managers made the key decisions that contributed to this public health emergency.

“Accountability is important to ensuring that a similar crisis never happens again. But the state of Michigan, who created this crisis, must step up and do more to help Flint recover. Governor Snyder has repeatedly said he is taking responsibility for the man-made crisis he created. But Flint deserves more than an apology – responsibility is making it right for the people of Flint. So far, the state’s response hasn’t even come close to what is needed.

“After months and months, the people of Flint still do not have clean drinking water. It is incomprehensible to me that the Governor continues to sit on a billion dollars that he doesn’t know what to do with, between the state’s Rainy Day fund and projected budget surplus. Governor Snyder can – and should – act immediately to free up additional resources for Flint.”

Senator Jim Ananich (D-Flint) has released the following statement on the report:

“The report confirms the what and the how, but we still need to know why these failures happened. Until we fully understand why state-controlled entities, including the DEQ, the DHHS and four emergency managers, didn’t protect people, we cannot ensure this kind of tragedy will not be repeated."

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