A new investigation into the Flint water crisis brought charges against former Michigan governor, Rick Snyder, and members of his administration for the city’s lead-contaminated water, which led to a deadly outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease between 2014 and 2015. The indictments, filed by Michigan Attorney General, were announced yesterday in Flint, MI, according to the Associated Press.
While the nature of the charges are unknown, charges were brought against Snyder, a Republican, Nick Lyon, former health department director, and other officials in his administration.
“It’s about damn time,” Lonnie Scott, executive director at Progress Michigan, said. “Justice for the people of Flint is long overdue.”
The Michigan Attorney General’s office didn’t elaborate on the investigation or charges and instead, Courtney Covington Watkins, spokeswoman, said that investigators were “working diligently” and “will share more as soon as we’re in a position to do so.”
“I’m glad,” Karen Weaver, former Flint Mayor, said. “It’s about time. We have been asking for this and asking for this. Governor Snyder is on the list (of individuals who should be charged). What happened in Flint was criminal.”
Snyder, who has been out of office for more than two years, was the governor when the state-appointed managers of Flint received approval to switch the city’s water to the Flint River in 2014, while a pipeline was being built to Lake Huron—a plan to switch water authorities. While connected to Flint River, lead leached from old pipes and contaminated the water distribution system that was used by nearly 100,000 residents, all while Legionella bacteria in the water caused a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. According to state officials, there were 90 cases of the disease in Genesee County and 12 deaths.
Snyder and Lyon initially made an announcement about the outbreak in January 2016, but Lyon confirmed he knew about it several months prior.
While initial charges against Lyon’s were dropped in 2019, the new investigation by Michigan Attorney General has him and several others back on the hook.
“What happened to the people of Flint is a terrible tragedy,” Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, said. “Justice for Flint families comes in many forms, including holding state officials accountable for what they did to Flint. While I never prejudge the outcome of any criminal charges, I support the Flint water crisis investigation following the facts, wherever they may lead. No one is above the law.”