Now that EPA “Good guys” Bob Kaplan, Miguel Del Toral, Mike Schock, Darren Lytle and others have been brought in, and EPA political appointee Susan Hedman is out of the way, EPA has exercised its 1431 “imminent and substantial endangerment” powers to take over responsibility from MDEQ for Flint.
This is nearly 4 months after we (and other many environmental groups) publicly pleaded:
While it comes months after the public health crisis was largely addressed in early October, we believe the intervention is necessary to address the dangerous crisis of confidence that Flint residents rightly have in their government. We publicly endorse the qualifications and ethics of the new team who is in charge at EPA.
While responsibility for the Flint water crisis still rests on a few career employees at MDEQ, none of whom have lost their jobs, responsibility for the public crisis in confidence rests entirely with the EPA. Dr. Yanna Lambrinidou, Paul Schwartz, Ralph Scott (deceased) and Dr. Marc Edwards have fought a losing battle since 2005, to get officials at the U.S. EPA Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (OGWDW) to get serious about lead in water.
When we exposed cheating in Washington D.C., New Orleans, Durham and elsewhere, OGWDW officials stabbed us in the back, and supported wrongdoers in every single case. Rather than learn lessons from childhood lead poisoning in Durham in 2006, EPA OGWDW stated:
…there is no evidence of a huge public health threat originating from lead in drinking water. Rates of lead poisoning in children have declined for years, noted Veronica Blette, special assistant to the EPA director of the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water. “[Edwards] wants to say there is an emerging problem,” Blette said. “But I don’t see the percentage of children with elevated lead in their blood increasing.”
That is right. Before they enforce the existing law, EPA wants us to produce hard data showing the percentage of children with elevated lead in their blood increasing—well, their wish has been granted in Flint.
Consultants also openly bragged about approaches, that would make lead in water look low during EPA compliance sampling, even when it was high when people were drinking the water, at national meetings right in front of OGWDW officials. In November 2011 Dr. Edwards wrote EPA OGWDW:
What, if anything, does EPA Office of water, intend to do about such practices? Because of a lack of leadership on this and other issues, the EPA LCR is currently being used to provide US consumers with a false sense of confidence about levels of lead in their public water supply. Through its inaction, EPA is effectively condoning unethical behavior. As far as I am concerned, the US EPA is more to blame for the next child who suffers health harm from elevated lead in water due to utility gaming, than the consultants/utilities who now openly engage in such practices…I can only conclude that… the US EPA Office of Water does not care whether children are lead poisoned from public drinking water
EPA OGWDW owns the Flint Water Crisis of confidence, that is unfolding before our eyes. As a reminder, MDEQ and EPA have repeatedly insisted that Flint has always met the EPA LCR. On September 29,2015, Dr. Edwards wrote OGWDW:
EPA Office of Water and EPA Region 5 are a national embarrassment. You have a city in crisis, kids with elevated blood lead, and NO CORROSION CONTROL PLAN FOR 16 MONTHS, and yet you sit there and do absolutely nothing.
As we stated above, better late than never. But just barely.
Primary Author: Dr. Marc Edwards