FBI Joins EPA in Investigating Flint Water Crisis for Criminal Violations
FBI spokeswoman says agency’s role is ‘investigating the matter to determine if there have been any federal violations’ in lead contamination of drinking water
The FBI is working with a multi-agency team investigating the lead contamination of Flint’s drinking water, alongside Environmental Protection Agency investigators who can tackle criminal violations of federal environmental law, officials said on Tuesday.
courtesy of Flint Water Study
Also on Tuesday, it was announced that Darnell Early, the state-appointed emergency manager for Flint when its water source was switched, will leave his current role in Detroit’s troubled school district four-and-a-half months early.
A slew of local, state and federal officials have resigned since doctors revealed last year that using the Flint River for the city’s drinking water supply caused elevated levels of lead in some children’s blood. Lead contamination has been linked to learning disabilities and other problems. Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, has apologized repeatedly for the state’s role.
FBI spokeswoman Jill Washburn told the AP in an email that the agency’s role is "investigating the matter to determine if there have been any federal violations." She declined to say when the FBI got involved.
Officials haven’t said whether criminal or civil charges might follow the investigation.
In addition to the FBI and the EPA, the team includes the US postal inspection service, Gina Balaya, a US attorney’s spokeswoman in Detroit, told the Associated Press in an email. The Detroit Free Press first reported the FBI’s involvement on Tuesday.
In November, the EPA announced it was auditing how Michigan enforces drinking water rules and said it would identify how to strengthen state oversight. The US attorney’s office in Detroit said in January that it was investigating the water crisis with the EPA.
The federal investigation is one of several taking place into Flint’s water supply. Last month, Michigan attorney general Bill Schuette announced the appointment of a special counsel to help his office investigate whether laws were broken.
An independent panel appointed by Snyder has determined that the Michigan department of environmental quality was primarily responsible for the water contamination. The Michigan civil rights commission also plans to hold hearings to explore whether the civil rights of Flint residents were violated.
Earley notified Snyder of his decision on Tuesday and said he had completed work ahead of his 18-month schedule.
Snyder said Earley had “done a very good job under some very difficult circumstances.”
Rolling teacher sick-outs in the Detroit public schools have forced dozens of schools to close intermittently in recent months.