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Prosecutors charged former Governor Rick Snyder for “willful neglect of duty” for his role in the Flint water crisis, which led to death and poisoning of that city’s population after a Snyder-appointed emergency manager tried to save money by switching the source of the city’s water to the Flint River.
The charges, revealed in an online court record, are misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The charges are groundbreaking: No governor or former governor in Michigan’s 184-year history had been charged with crimes related to their time in that office, according to the state archivist….
The alleged offense date is April 25, 2014, when a Snyder-appointed emergency manager who was running the struggling, majority Black city carried out a money-saving decision to use the Flint River for water while a regional pipeline from Lake Huron was under construction.
The corrosive water, however, was not treated properly and released lead from old plumbing into homes in one of the worst manmade environmental disasters in U.S. history.
Despite desperate pleas from residents holding jugs of discolored, skunky water, the Snyder administration took no significant action until a doctor reported elevated lead levels in children about 18 months later….
Authorities counted at least 90 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County, including 12 deaths. Some experts found there was not enough chlorine in the water-treatment system to control legionella bacteria, which can trigger a severe form of pneumonia when spread through misting and cooling systems.
The disaster made Flint a national symbol of government dereliction, with residents forced to line up for bottled water and parents fearing their children had suffered permanent harm. Lead can damage the brain and nervous system and cause learning and behavior problems. The crisis was highlighted as an example of environmental injustice and racism.