LANSING — State Representatives Phil Phelps (D-Flushing) and Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint) are pushing for a federal investigation into the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) after a story came out today claiming the DEQ knowingly dropped two lead test samples to avoid exceeding a federal drinking water standard. Had these tests been counted, action could have been taken earlier on the water crisis in Flint.
Rep. Neeley is also calling for DEQ Director Dan Wyant to be removed from his post by Gov. Rick Snyder, who led the state’s reaction to the water crisis long after problems started. Neeley has sent several letters to the governor and Attorney General Bill Schuette requesting that they take action, but both offices have not responded to the legislator.
“It is shameful and appalling to me that the men and women we entrust to keep us safe at the highest levels of state government would purposely put the health of Flint’s residents at risk,” Neeley said. “For the past year, the Flint community has been subjected to high levels of lead in their water. Action clearly could have been taken earlier to protect the children who have been the most at risk. This behavior borderlines on criminal activity. The governor should immediately terminate the director of the DEQ and all culpable members of the staff.”
According to the story by Michigan Radio, Mike Glasgow, an employee with the city of Flint who is tasked with collecting water samples, was told to take a sample from Lee Anne Walters’ Flint home off the report. That sample turned up a lead result of 104 parts per billion — seven times the federally mandated limit.
Wyant denies any wrongdoing, and said the sample at Walters’ home was dropped because a water filter was used in the home. However, the 104 parts per billion was the highest lead content collected.
“You can read the story, and know immediately that what the DEQ is saying and what actually happened doesn’t add up,” Phelps said. “This is just one more instance of the DEQ covering something up, and even more of a reason they fought me when I sent a FOIA requesting information relating to the water crisis in Flint. There must be a full federal investigation into the state on how they handled these samples.”