The Latest: Regulator: Regulator to testify on Flint water

AP News
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Posted: Feb 02, 2016 6:56 PM
The Latest: Regulator: Regulator to testify on Flint water

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The latest on the lead-contaminated drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan (all times local):

6:55 p.m.

Michigan's top environmental regulator says the state should have required the city of Flint to treat its water for corrosion after elevated lead levels were first discovered in the city's water a year ago.

Keith Creagh, director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, says the state did not require corrosion treatment after officials noticed elevated lead levels in January 2015.

In prepared testimony for a hearing Wednesday on Capitol Hill, Creagh said state officials "relied on technical compliance (with the law) instead of assuring safe drinking water."

The Associated Press obtained a copy of Creagh's testimony in advance of Wednesday's hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The hearing is the first since the lead contamination crisis in Flint erupted last year.

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6:45 p.m.

Mayor Karen Weaver says she wants lead pipes removed from Flint's water system as soon as possible.

Weaver said at a news conference Tuesday that she would like to pattern Flint's effort after one in Lansing, which has removed more than 13,000 lead pipes.

She says a similar effort in Flint using 30 crews would be able to remove 15,000 pipes in one year.

Weaver didn't put an overall price tag on the plan, but said it would cost $2,000-$3,000 per line and that the money would come from public and private funding.

Improperly treated water leached lead from pipes into drinking water after Flint switched from Detroit's water system to the Flint River in 2014 to save money. Testing has since showed high lead levels in some children.

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6 p.m.

Several people in the Flint area have filed a lawsuit claiming they contracted Legionnaires' disease after the city switched from Detroit's water system to Flint River water.

Attorney Geoffrey Fieger says the suit was filed in Genesee Circuit Court alleges McLaren Flint hospital and state officials didn't do enough to protect patients against the outbreak. It seeks $100 million.

The state has reported that nearly 90 cases of Legionnaires' were confirmed and nine people died between June 2014 and November 2015. About one-third of the infected people's homes received Flint water, which was found to have elevated lead levels after the city began drawing from the Flint River.

The Detroit Free Press and The Flint Journal report that officials at the hospital and with Gov. Rick Snyder's office declined to comment Tuesday on the lawsuit.

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11:50 a.m.

The former state-appointed emergency manager for Flint when its water source was switched in 2014 isn't expected to testify at a U.S. House committee hearing on the city's crisis with lead-tainted water.

Detroit Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski tells The Associated Press in an email that Darnell Earley declined an invitation to testify Wednesday before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The confirmation came shortly after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced Tuesday that Earley, who currently is the emergency manager for Detroit's school district, is leaving the job about 4½ months early.

The AP left a message for Earley.

State regulators failed to require water from the Flint River be properly treated, allowing lead from pipes to leach into the supply and causing a public health emergency.

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8:20 a.m.

Federal prosecutors say the FBI is working with a multi-agency team investigating the lead contamination of Flint's drinking water.

U.S. attorney's spokeswoman Gina Balaya in Detroit told The Associated Press in an email Tuesday that her office also is working with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Word of the FBI's involvement was first reported by the Detroit Free Press.

The U.S. attorney's office in Detroit said in January it was investigating the water crisis with the EPA.

Officials haven't said whether criminal or civil charges might follow.

Flint switched its water source from Detroit's water system to the Flint River in 2014 to save money while under state financial management. The river water wasn't treated properly and lead from pipes leached into Flint homes.