The Michigan attorney general has charged two state officials and one city employee with criminal charges related to their handling of the Flint water crisis.
During a press conference in Flint today, attorney general Bill Schuette said that the three individuals each face multiple charges.
Two employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Michael Prysby and Stephen Busch, each face charges that include misconduct in office for misleading federal and local authorities and regulatory officials, as well as “intentionally tampering with evidence of lead levels on certain water samples,” Schuette said during the press conference. In addition, Prysby was also charged with authorizing an operating permit for the Flint water treatment plant, despite “knowing that the plant would fail to provide safe and clean drinking water,” Schuette said.
Prysby faces four felonies and two misdemeanors, while Busch faces three felonies and two misdemeanors.
The attorney general also charged Michael Glasgow, a Flint city employee, one felony and one misdemeanor. Glasgow was charged with tampering with evidence, by “altering and falsifying reports” to the Michigan DEQ and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Glasgow was also charged with violating his duty to protect the health of Flint families under the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act.
The problems with Flint’s water began in April 2014 when the city decided to tap the Flint River for its drinking water in an effort to save money, as opposed to buying water from Detroit. But, the river water corroded pipes, causing lead to leach into them. When city residents complained that the water was discolored and smelled and tasted bad, state and city officials failed to respond.
Last December, Flint’s mayor declared a state of emergency, following a study that showed that the proportion of infants and children in Flint with elevated levels of lead in their blood had doubled since the city switched to sourcing water from the Flint River.
Since then, there have been calls for Michigan governor Rick Snyder to resign over his handling of the situation. He is still in office, but Susan Hedman, the EPA administrator in charge of the Midwest, resigned in January.
During today’s press conference, special assistant attorney general, Todd Flood, who will be investigating the case, said that the team would “go down every rabbit hole.”
“These charges are only the beginning,” Schuette said of today’s charges. “There will be more to come, that I can guarantee you.”