The Flint Disaster is Not a “Local Issue”

Funding for Flint, has now stalled in Congress, in part because of a belief that the Flint disaster is a local issue.

While those unfamiliar with the history, who now parrot EPA’s false talking points on the issue can be forgiven, it is important to remember that the Flint disaster is partly due to a culture of complacency and complicity in the federal government.

A March Wall Street Journal editorial succinctly detailed how the EPA “tries to rewrite its history in the lead-water debacle,” and unfortunately, some in Congress believe the Orwellian storyline.

The fact of the matter is that the Federal government “aided, abetted and emboldened” criminal actions by their counterparts at the State of Michigan, who were failing to follow federal corrosion control laws, even after a Flint mother and an EPA employee exposed this dangerous oversight.  The failure to follow the law, is the likely cause for hundreds of millions in damage to Flint’s water infrastructure, one of the worst outbreaks of Legionnaires disease in U.S. history (resulting in 12 deaths), and elevation of blood lead in Flint’s children.

While it is true that other towns and cities in America have problems with their water pipe infrastructure, in no other case were their problems perpetuated by the U.S. EPA, nor are they trying to dig out of a resulting public health, fiscal and infrastructure debacle.

Congress needs to carefully re-consider the factual basis, for their moral argument, that they do not bear some financial responsibility for EPA’s failings.

Primary Author: Dr. Marc Edwards

One thought on “The Flint Disaster is Not a “Local Issue”

  1. The Flint water crisis was caused by switching over its water supply to the Flint River. A river like any other river still heavily polluted, because EPA never implemented the CWA. Due to the faulty use of the BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) test, EPA not only ignored 60% of the pollution in sewage exerting oxygen, but ignored all the nitrogenous (urine and protein) waste, while this waste also is a fertilizer for algae.
    In addition, most states still require treated sewage to be disinfected and many still use chlorine. This, while EPA already in 1978 had dropped this requirement as being ineffective in preventing waterborne diseases and damaging to the environment, because this practice is forming DBP’s, of which some are carcinogenic and some endocrine disrupters.
    In addition, since ammonia is not treated in sewage, this also will form chloramines, also a disinfectant, but one that will remain active much longer than chlorine. Chloramines are also known to be corrosive to copper and lead.
    Most water distribution systems, depending on the hardness of the water, have a relative stable scale formation build up. Scale will also have captured heavy metals, depending on the pH of the water.
    The first indication of the switchover in Flint troubles started with with odor and taste problems, mainly caused by the organic matter (untreated sewage) in the water, since conventional drinking water treatment (coagulation/filtration) does not remove molecular dissolved organic matter. This source of nutrient for bacteria probably also caused the problems with bacteria, causing Legionnaires disease.
    Any time one switches water supplies in an established water distribution system, one can expect changes, especially when there even is a slight change of pH or alkalinity.
    What happened in Flint has nothing to do with rich or poor neighborhoods, it was caused by a polluted Flint River, while this fact has been and still is ignored nationwide.
    All attempts to correct BOD testing and force EPA to implement the CWA, during the past 33 years, failed due to lack of support from professional and academic institutions, mostly using the excuse that this was not their responsibility.
    The first code of professional ethics is to to protect the interest of the general public and not, as it now seems, only the interest of those controlling the public funding.

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