The Slatest

Criminal Charges Filed Against Three in Flint Water Crisis Case

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 15, 2013.

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

An investigation by Michigan’s attorney general into the Flint water crisis has resulted in criminal charges, including felony charges, against two Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials and one city of Flint employee. The three men—Flint laboratory and water quality supervisor Michael Glasgow and MDEQ employees Steven Busch and Michael Prysby—are all accused of “tampering with evidence” in addition to other crimes, the MLive site reports:

Glasgow is accused of tampering with evidence when he allegedly changed testing results to show there was less lead in city water than there actually was …  [Attorney general] Schuette’s office claims Prysby and Busch knowingly misled Environmental Protection Agency regulator Miguel Del Toral that the city was using proper corrosion control when they knew the city was not.

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The MDEQ told the EPA in early 2015 that Flint had an “optimized corrosion control plan” in place, which was untrue. (The crisis began when the city began using the Flint River as a source of water; the water from the river was more corrosive than the water from the city’s previous source and caused lead used in plumbing materials to leach into the water coming out of taps.) The MDEQ and the city of Flint also collaborated on a summer 2015 study that purportedly showed that there were not abnormally high levels of lead in Flint’s water—a study that was marred by a number of flaws, including the suspicious post-hoc rejection of two particular water samples that were high in lead. (The Detroit Free Press reports that Glasgow is specifically accused of signing a document attesting that all the homes tested in the city’s study were served by plumbing lines containing lead, which is known to not be the case.)

The three men were not present when charges were announced and do not appear to have yet commented on the accusations.

The Free Press report notes that the attorney general’s investigation into the crisis is still ongoing and could result in additional prosecutions.

Read more in Slate about Flint, Michigan’s drinking water emergency.

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