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House chairman Upton set to visit Flint

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the influential House Energy & Commerce Committee, is traveling to Flint on Thursday, as the city continues to recover from the lead-tainted water crisis, his office said Wednesday.

The St. Joseph Republican will be joined by Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee of Flint Township as they aim to keep the spotlight on Flint’s struggles. Congress has not approved proposed aid bills for the Genesee County city.

The pair will meet with Dr. Nicole Lurie, who is coordinating the federal government’s response in Flint as the assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They also will meet with philanthropic and community leaders as well as Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the Hurley Medical Center pediatrician who showed the city’s drinking water was contaminated by lead.

This is Upton’s first visit to Flint since the lead contamination of Flint’s drinking water came to light. In late September 2015, Hanna-Attisha found high levels of lead in the blood of Flint children, prompting state officials to switch the city’s water source from the Flint River back to Lake Huron water.

The tainted water supply, caused by the failure to treat it with corrosion-control chemicals, has also been tied to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that resulted in 91 cases and 12 deaths.

Upton’s committee held April hearings in Washington, D.C., on the “impacts and lessons learned” from the water crisis. Witnesses included Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon; Keith Creagh, then-director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; and Joel Beauvais, deputy assistant administrator in Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water.

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