The city of Flint was devastated by lead-contaminated water soon after the city began supplying residents with water from the Flint River in April 2014. Systemic racism played a role in the decisions made by authorities, a government-appointed civil rights commission found in a 2017 report.
Snyder has been out of office for two years. He was the Republican governor of Michigan in 2014 when Flint’s state-appointed managers switched the city’s water from Lake Huron to the Flint River to save money while a pipe was being built to the lake. The water was not treated to reduce corrosion – a disastrous decision that state regulators said caused lead to leach from old pipes and pollute the distribution system used by almost 100,000, majority-Black residents, AP reported.
The decision was reversed more than a year later after reports of elevated blood lead levels and corroded pipes, CNN reported.
Bacteria in the water was blamed for an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease which can cause severe pneumonia. There were at least 90 cases in Genesee County and 12 deaths.
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The nature of the charges against Snyder, former health department director Nick Lyon and others in the Snyder administration is not available, AP reported. The attorney general’s office declined to comment on details of the ongoing investigation.
On Twitter, the news that charges would be forthcoming was met with some relief.
“It’s. About. Damn. Time.” one tweeter said. “Long overdue. They need to throw the book at this guy,” another said.
In Flint, 57 percent of the population is Black. “If this was in a white area, in a rich area, there would have been something done. I mean, let’s get real here. We know the truth,” a resident said in the report.
In 2018, Lyon was ordered to be tried on involuntary manslaughter charges after a special prosecutor said he failed to inform the public about public health issues in a timely manner.
By June 2019, the entire Flint water investigation had fallen apart, AP reported. Prosecutors working under new Attorney General Dana Nessel dismissed charges against Lyon and seven other people and said the investigation would start over.
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