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A congressional hearing into the Flint water crisis is shaping up to be a finger-pointing affair, with state and federal officials each blaming the other for failing to prevent or halt the poisoning of an entire city.
Prepared testimony released by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform gave a glimpse of what lawmakers will hear Wednesday morning as they investigate the debacle that began when Flint began piping water from its river into homes in April 2014.
Kenneth Creagh, the director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, admitted the state should have required the City of Flint to take steps to control corrosion of its pipes after tests showed elevated levels of lead in the water in January 2015 and said the city did not even follow the advice of its own consultants.
But Creagh also took a swipe at the feds, complaining that the Environmental Protection Agency “did not display the sense of urgency that the situation demanded.”
He claimed that after two agencies clashed over what action had to be taken against the lead, the EPA dragged its feet in giving the MDEQ a legal opinion on what was required.
“Legitimate concerns raised by EPA’s own expert staff were not elevated or provided to either the city of the state for review and action until the state’s response was well under way,” Creagh said.
A top EPA water official, though, painted the state as the chief culprit.
“MDEQ incorrectly advised the City of Flint that corrosion control treatment was not necessary, resulting in leaching of lead into the City’s drinking water,” Joel Beauvais , deputy assistant administrator, said in his testimony.
“EPA regional staff urged MDEQ to address the lack of corrosion control, but was met with resistance. The delays in implementing the actions needed to treat the drinking water and in informing the public of ongoing health risks raise very serious concerns.”