The Slatest

Report: Ex-Gov. Rick Snyder and Other Officials Face Prosecution in Flint Water Crisis

A clear trash bag filled with empty water bottles and water filters on the grass outside of a house.
Flint, Michigan, in 2016. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and other officials from his administration will face charges for their actions in the Flint water crisis.

Since 2014, residents of Flint, a predominantly Black city, have been using water that at one point was contaminated enough to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of “toxic waste.” That year, officials within Snyder’s administration made the decision to switch the city’s water supply from Detroit municipal water to the Flint River in order to save money. The water from the river was not properly treated and old lead pipes began to leach. And residents, who had begun to complain that something wasn’t right with the water, were told by officials that it was fine.

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This corner-cutting decision compounded decades of environmental racism experienced by the city’s residents, further exposed them to toxins, and left a number of residents to deal with horrific repercussions.

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More pregnant folks began to suffer from miscarriages. Almost 30,000 children were exposed to contaminated water, and the percentage of students who qualify for special education classes had almost doubled by November 2019. Inadequate chlorine levels in Flint’s water fueled an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. In 2016, residents who testified in front of Congress attributed hair loss and kidney failure to lead exposure in interviews with HuffPost. (A 2019 study says lead exposure in adults can cause rashes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and kidney disease.)

As the human cost went up, Snyder took his time declaring a state of emergency. An April investigation by Vice found that Snyder had known the potential risks of switching Flint’s water supply a year before the change. And once ill residents began to question the water quality, Snyder’s top adviser tried to buy them off.

Relevant defense attorneys have been told of the impending charges and informed that their clients, which include Snyder’s former health director, will appear in court soon. It’s unclear what the exact charges will be.

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