Three individuals are facing criminal charges Wednesday as part of the ongoing probe of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
The three city officials facing charges include: Stephen Busch, Lansing district coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Quality's Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance; Mike Glasgow, Flint's laboratory and water quality supervisor; and Mike Prysby, who works in the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
Busch, who has been suspended as a result of the water scandal, is charged with eight counts, including conspiracy to tamper with evidence, tampering with evidence, engaging in a treatment violation that violates the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, misconduct in office, and engaging in a monitoring violation that violates the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act. Glasgow has been charged with two counts of tampering with evidence and willful neglect of office. Meanwhile, Prysby is facing five charges in total: two charges of misconduct in office; and one count each of conspiracy to tamper with evidence, tampering with evidence, engaging in a treatment violation that violates the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act and engaging in a monitoring violation that violates the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act.
The charges surround the alleged blatant misleading of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Genesee County Health Department officials during an investigation, authorization of a permit for a water plant that was known to be deficient in providing safe drinking water, a failure to require needed corrosion control chemicals, manipulation of monitoring and testing reports, and violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act, among other violations. Busch, Glasglow and Prysby are expected to be arraigned at a later date.
The town of Flint made national headlines when high levels of lead were found in its water supply. It is estimated that up to 9,000 children could have been exposed to the contaminated water. The lead exposure reportedly began in April 2014.
"Let me say that I support and I know that others support these investigations. We expect the facts will determine the outcome. ... It's my hope that anyone who had any part in the decisions that led to this terrible crisis will be held accountable. ... Hopefully, we'll see more of this," Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee of Flint, who visited Illinois in February to discuss the water crisis, said Tuesday.
Advocates echoed Kildee's sentiment, and say Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder needs to be removed from office as a result of the water scandal that is also associated with an outbreak of Legionnaire's disease in the town. which killed at least 10 people.
"While these initial charges are a start in ensuring the residents of Flint see that justice is served, those who are truly responsible have yet to be held accountable," Agenda Project Action Fund President Erik Altieri said in a statement. "We will not stop fighting until Governor Snyder is removed from office. His actions are a perfect portrayal of Republican priorities: they let diseases spread, they let crucial infrastructure deteriorate, and they forced the residents of Flint to watch their children suffer and neighbors died, all in the name of the almighty dollar. "
"Today's criminal charges are one step to bringing justice to Flint families who are the victims of this terrible tragedy," he added. Read more about today's charges here.