The probe into the Flint water crisis could result in various criminal charges including manslaughter, Todd Flood, special counsel for the state attorney general’s office investigation said on Tuesday.
“We’re here to investigate what possible crimes there are, anything to the involuntary manslaughter or death that may have happened to some young person or old person because of this poisoning, to misconduct in office,” he said. “We take this very seriously.”
The outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease after the poisoning of Flint’s water resulted in 10 deaths. Up to 8,000 children have been subjected to lead poisoning in the water after Flint’s water supply changed because Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration sought to ‘save money.’ Contaminated water provided to the citizens of the diverse town caused the levels of lead poisoning among children there to spike.
The Detroit News reports:
The probe will look at state and local government officials to determine whether any state laws were violated. There is no clear timeline for how long the investigation will take.
“It’s not far-fetched” to imagine involuntary manslaughter charges in the case, Flood told reporters, if the investigation links “gross negligence” or a “breach of duty” to a death in Flint, where at least nine people have died of Legionnaires’ disease after the city switched to Flint River water in April 2014.
Flood could also pursue restitution for Flint residents affected by the water contamination crisis, he said, suggesting he could target private companies or governments involved in the man-made disaster.
Schuette has assembled what he called a “top-shelf” team for the probe, led by Flood and Arena, who ran several major investigations as head of the Detroit FBI Office until his retirement in 2012. Arena came out of retirement, he said, because the Flint water investigation is “the biggest case in the history of the state.”
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said Tuesday that the state’s public-records law should be expanded to include the governor’s office because of the Flint disaster. Even though Gov. Snyder has voluntarily released his personal emails related to Flint from 2014 and 2015, that does not include his staff’s correspondence.
On Tuesday, Flint’s mayor said that a plan to remove and replace all lead water pipes in city homes will cost $55 million, according to US News.
Obviously, it would have been more cost-effective to not ‘save money’ by switching the city’s water supply in order to cut corners.
It’s not just humans. Two dogs in the Flint area have tested positive for lead poisoning, which prompted officials to remind pet owners that their animals shouldn’t drink unfiltered tap water until it’s deemed safe.
The wording in a petition to recall Governor Rick Snyder (R) has been approved, although it does not mention the water crisis. Others referring to the Flint water crisis were not approved by Republicans on the board.