EPA inspector general points some blame for Flint water crisis response

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FLINT (WJRT) (7/19/2018) - The EPA inspector general issued a report on Thursday pointing some blame for the Flint water crisis on the agency.

A detailed investigation of the federal government's actions before and during the water crisis faults local, state and federal drinking water officials for poisoning thousands of Flint residents with excessive lead.

The report developed nine recommendations to strengthen the EPA's oversight of drinking water systems and effectiveness of monitoring compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule.

The EPA earlier acknowledged it had authority and information to issue an emergency order protecting Flint residents seven months earlier than an order actually was issued.

The report faults the Flint Water Department and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for failing to have an inventory of lead water service lines and maintaining corrosion control treatment after beginning to pump drinking water from the Flint River in 2014.

The inspector general faulted the EPA for failing to implement management controls to provide a better framework for making decisions about Flint's switch in water source.

The report also faults the EPA for responding slowly to the water crisis as it unfolded and failing to clearly define roles for all agencies working on relief efforts.

“While oversight authority is vital, its absence can contribute to a catastrophic situation,” said EPA Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins. “This report urges the EPA to strengthen its oversight of state drinking water programs now so that the agency can act quickly in times of emergency.”

Eight of the inspector general's recommendations have been implemented, but the ninth remains unresolved.

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