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3 charged in Flint water crisis

The man who supervised Flint’s water treatment plant has been charged, along with two state environmental officials, in connection with the Michigan city’s water crisis.

Mike Glasgow, a former supervisor at the Flint treatment plant who now serves as the city’s utilities administrator, is charged with tampering with evidence and willful neglect of duty as a public officer, according to court records.

The other two are Stephen Busch and Mike Prysby of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Busch, who is on unpaid administrative leave with the department, and Prysby, who still works with the department, both stand charged with two counts each of misconduct in office, tampering with evidence and violation of the Safe Water Drinking Act.

The next step in the process is a formal arraignment, Genesee County prosecutor David Leyton said.

Leyton is expected to appear with state Attorney General Bill Schuette, who is leading the investigation, at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

For some affected Flint residents, the criminal charges don’t go far enough.

Nakiya Wakes said holding three officials accountable “is a start but only a start.”

“I won’t rest until the governor is charged. It was his person who pushed the change of water supply through and he knew there were problems but did nothing,” Wakes said.

“We are still suffering here. And his higher-ups in this mess need to be held responsible, too.”

The genesis

Two years ago, in a move to save money, the state switched Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River, a tributary notorious for its filth. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality also failed to treat the corrosive water, which ate into the city’s iron and lead pipes, causing lead to leach into the drinking water.

Also detected in the water were high levels of E. coli, carcinogens and other toxins.

More than 50 lawsuits have been filed since January, though one federal class-action was dropped Tuesday over a jurisdictional issue. Though the state made the decision to switch the water source, some lawsuits accuse the city of being complicit by not doing enough during the 18 months that residents received their drinking water from the Flint River.

City employees were involved in treating water at the Flint Water Treatment Plant as well as in testing residents’ water for the state.

One class-action lawsuit says residents have suffered skin lesions, hair loss, vision loss, memory loss, depression and anxiety. There are also concerns about miscarriages, imminent learning disabilities in children and Legionnaires’ disease.

Though Flint’s water supply is “definitely on its path to recovery,” concerns about lead and other issues hinder the cleanup of the system’s corroded pipes, according to the Virginia Tech researcher who exposed the water crisis in the city of 100,000.

Professor Marc Edwards said last week that lead contamination levels continue to surpass acceptable federal standards, and he urged residents to keep using bottled or filtered water for cooking or drinking.

Gov. Rick Snyder caught heat this week for announcing he will drink filtered Flint water for the next 30 days. Snyder said he’s doing it to “alleviate some of the skepticism and mistrust,” but many on social media viewed it as an empty public relations stunt.