After high levels of lead were detected in the tap water in Flint, Michigan, millions of people held Gov. Rick Snyder responsible for the crisis that eventually turned into a national shame.
However, few pointed fingers at the Environmental Protection Agency for not doing anything about the predicament.
A Flint activist and mother of three, Melissa Mays, brought the issue to light on Tuesday when she questioned the government agency for not addressing the water problem before it escalated into a national emergency.
“We saw more information on Google than we did from the EPA. We asked them for help and got nothing,” said the 37-year-old. Several federal authorities, including the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, also criticized the EPA for their lack of action.
Interestingly, the EPA has been aware of the water problem since last February, and knew that Flint was not using corrosion-control treatments as required. While the agency did send out a technical team to look into the situation sometime later, it did not bother to alert people of the problem, or raise a red signal for emergency until just last month.
Mays has also alleged that the EPA “ignored” residents’ pleas for help.
“We were refused help. This is pathetic,” she added. “This is their job to protect us. The EPA’s job is to make sure the state and local officials are doing right by us.”
She has since started a group called “Water You Fighting For” in order to raise awareness of Flint’s water issue. She even went on to particularly point fingers at EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and former Midwest Region 5 head Susan Hedman, who has conveniently resigned.
Meanwhile, the EPA alleges that it had informed the Department of Environmental Quality regarding the need of corrosion control and was looking into legal backings for its stance, but nothing was completed until November.
In January, however, an emergency had to be declared since the city and state were doing nothing to solve the issue at hand.
It is important to note that although Rick Snyder is majorly responsible for the Flint water crisis, one cannot turn a blind eye to the careless behavior demonstrated by the EPA — an agency created for the basic purpose of protecting human health and the environment However, with it being a federal organization, the lack of responsibility isn’t too surprising.