US Congress grills officials over Michigan drinking water pollution

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By Euronews
US Congress grills officials over Michigan drinking water pollution

US Congress members have called for a state governor and a watchdog chief to resign for failing to prevent a contaminated drinking water scandal.

Corrosive river water which supplied Flint in Michigan caused pipes to leak lead into the system. Lead is toxic and can damage the nervous system.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency and the state’s Republican governor were quizzed in Washington.

“Let me be blunt, this was a failure of government at all levels: local, state, and federal officials. We all failed the families of Flint. This isn’t about politics nor partisanship. I’m not going to point fingers or shift blame. There’s plenty of that to share and neither will help the people of Flint,” Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder told the congressional committee hearing.

More than 200 residents from Flint travelled to Washington for the hearing. They included a 10-year-old boy whose mother said lead had affected his attention span and grades.

Blood samples taken from children revealed high levels of lead.

“We can go to the hardware (store) and get lead-free paint. We can go to the gas station and get unleaded gas. But we can’t turn on our faucets in Flint, Michigan and get lead-free water. We want lead-free water!” cried Bishop Bernadel L.Jefferson, a Michigan resident.

In 2014 water supplies to Flint, a mostly African-American city of 100,000, were switched to the Flint River to save money.

They went back to the Detroit system last October.

In Washington the health scandal has sparked a political row, partly along party lines, and the US Senate has failed to agree on a multi-million dollar bill to repair pipes.