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Michigan health chief charged in Flint water probe

15 June 2017

The five charged Wednesday are Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, former Flint EM Darnell Earley, former Flint Water Department Manager Howard Crost, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's former drinking water chief, Liane Shekter-Smith, and Stephen Busch, a district water supervisor at the DEQ. Dr. Wells and Mr. Lyon are the highest ranking officials being charged in the case so far, and The Washington Post reports that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has expressed his support for them and said that the two will keep their jobs.

Legionnaires' disease is a form of pneumonia contracted by drinking contaminated warm water with bacteria.

The water problems stem from an emergency manager's move to switch the city's water source from Detroit to the corrosive Flint River in April of 2014. Though the water has returned to more acceptable lead levels, residents are still instructed to drink bottled and boiled water until all lead pipes in MI have been replaced, which is estimated to be around 2020.

Top health officials in the state knew about the outbreak for months, investigators said, but did nothing to warn the public.

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Between June 2014 and November 2015, at least 87 residents of Genesee County, which includes Flint, contracted Legionnaires' Disease.

In 2014, Flint began using water from the Flint River but didn't treat it.

Dr. Eden Wells, the state's chief medical officer, was also charged Wednesday with obstruction of justice and lying to an investigator.

Zervos will testify that he emailed Wells in March 2017 "regarding her efforts to intimidate and obstruct his investigation", the documents say.

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Among the Schuette critics is Flint native and filmmaker Michael Moore, who tweeted Wednesday that "Michigan Attorney General fails to arrest Michigan's governor for poisoning the people of Flint". Officials have admitted to not properly treating the water with appropriate corrosion measures, resulting in undrinkable lead-poisoned water.

The charges are related to the death of 85-year-old Robert Skidmore, one of a dozen Flint residents who contracted Legionnaires' disease and died after the city's water source was changed to save money. "The families of Flint have experienced a tragic health and safety crisis for the past three years".

"Today's announcement that additional state officials will face criminal charges is an indictment of the state's failed policies that led to this crisis", Congressman Dan Kildee, a Democrat of Flint Township, said in a statement.

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Michigan health chief charged in Flint water probe