Though Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said he has taken responsibility for the Flint water crisis, he also said he received misinformation from his staff denying the problem the night before he learned about the issue.
During the Michigan Chronicle’s 11th annual Pancakes and Politics breakfast at the Detroit Athletic Club on Monday, Snyder told reporters that he received a briefing “telling me that there really isn’t a problem in Flint. That these outside experts aren’t correct,” reported the Detroit Free Press.
The next day, September 28, 2015, Snyder said he was briefed on the seriousness of the lead poisoning in Flint by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Health and Human Services.
“And I get on the call, and I push them, and they tell me, ‘It looks like there is a problem,’” Snyder said at the event. “That’s the kind of thing you never want to see. And talk about being upset, I was upset.”
Nonetheless, many people have called for Snyder’s resignation, including Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Snyder also faced a tense hearing in March held by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. During the House hearing, Snyder said he was misled about the water crisis for more than a year and expanded the blame.
“Let me be blunt. This was a failure of government at all levels,” he told the hearing.
Snyder added in the hearing that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality continued to claim the Flint water was safe. Snyder also said that he didn’t learn of the of the water’s contamination until October 1, 2015, which is a few days later than he stated in his most recent claim on Monday. The city started taking its water from the Flint River to save money 18 months prior to Snyder’s discovery of the lead poisoned water.
A panel task force, appointed by Snyder last fall, revealed in a report on March 21 that the state level of government was “fundamentally accountable” for the Flint crisis, because the state-appointed emergency managers and environmental regulators of the governor’s administration caused the corruption. The report added that though delayed, Snyder has helped address the crisis since by declaring a state of emergency, adding more funding for children affected by lead poisoning in Flint and providing partial reimbursement for water bills paid during the contamination period.
Snyder also released a statement on Friday, saying that a group of experts have found that the quality of water in Flint is improving.
However, tiny amounts of lead flaking off from damaged pipes are still triggering lead levels in some homes, causing the entire water system to stay “unstable,” a senior official with the Environmental Protection Agency told the Detroit Free Press.