Clinton: State calling Flint water safe unconscionable

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton weighed in on Flint’s lead contamination water crisis Monday, criticizing state officials for allowing Flint River water to continue flowing to city homes after General Motors Co. deemed it too corrosive for engine parts.

“The situation in Flint, Michigan, is extremely concerning. No parent should have to worry that their kids’ water isn’t safe,” Clinton said Monday in a statement.

“We now know that a General Motors factory stopped using Flint's water because it was corroding car engine parts — yet officials continued to reassure the public that the water was safe for human consumption. That’s unconscionable, and I applaud the Department of Justice for joining the Environmental Protection Agency in investigating what happened here.”

Clinton waded into the Flint water crisis one day after President Barack Obama’s chief of staff said the White House is “very closely” monitoring the situation.

Last Tuesday, Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency in Flint — three months after the city’s water supply was switched back to Detroit and more than a year after GM stopped using city water at its Flint Engine Operations plant.

Snyder has not asked the federal government for disaster relief assistance while state and local officials work this week to distribute water filters and bottled water to Flint residents. The Republican administration has indicated it might ask for help if state resources prove inadequate.

In April 2014, while under the direct control of a Snyder-appointed emergency manager, Flint temporarily switched its water supply to the Flint River to save $1.5 million a month.

The Detroit Water and Sewage Department wanted to charge the cash-strapped a higher monthly water fee while Flint waited to connect to a new Lake Huron pipeline that won’t be online until later this year.

“Thousands of children may have been exposed to lead, which could irreversibly harm their health and brain functioning. Plus, this catastrophe — which was caused by a zeal to save money at all costs — could actually cost $1.5 billion in infrastructure repairs,” Clinton said. “The people of Flint deserve to know the truth about how this happened and what Gov. Snyder and other leaders knew about it. And they deserve a solution, fast.”

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has said replacing Flint’s aging network of public and private water pipelines could cost as much as $1.5 billion, though no final assessment has been made.

Clinton is in a close battle against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the early nominating states of Iowa and New Hampshire

The former secretary of state will be in Detroit Tuesday night for a fundraiser featuring a special performance by singer Michael Bolton.

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