FBI Investigating Flint Water Crisis

The water crisis has poisoned children and is officially a state of emergency.

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan is now being investigated by the FBI. The crisis has left an unknown number of residents with lead poisoning, including children. President Obama declared it a state of emergency in January. The city of Flint switched water supplies in 2014 in an attempt to cut costs, resulting in the water contamination.

The president’s action in January allows FEMA to “coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency.” FEMA is authorized to provide up to $5 million in federal aid to provide water, filters, and other items to residents for up to 90 days.

The crisis originated in April 2014, when Flint began using water from the Flint River and stopped buying water from Detroit. This switch corroded underground water pipes, contaminating the water with lead.

Spokeswoman for the FBI in Detroit, Jill Washburn, said on Tuesday that the FBI is involved in investigating the crisis. "Our role is to determine whether or not there have been federal violations," she said. Spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit, Gina Balaya, said on Monday that the FBI is “working with a multi-agency investigation team on the Flint water contamination matter, including the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, EPA's Office of Inspector General, and EPA's Criminal Investigation Division."

The U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is set to hold a hearing about the crisis on Wednesday. The committee has invited the EPA’s acting deputy assistant administrator in its Office of Water to testify. It also invited the director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Keith Creagh, who recently took the place of Dan Wyant, the previous director, who resigned in December following a report about the water contamination.

-Bronte Price

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