Flint water company investigation has reached another level of controversy ever since two people connected to Flint Water investigation were found dead.
The Flint water crisis began exactly two years ago, on April 2014, when Flint changed its water source from treated Detroit Water and Sewerage Department water to the Flint River – to which officials had failed to apply corrosion inhibitors.
Almost immediately, Flint residents complained about the water’s color, taste and odor. In the following months, numerous water issues arose, with little to no governmental action to fix them.
- August and September 2014 boil-water advisories were issued by the city due to coliform bacteria detection
- On August 21, 2014 test showed the city’s water tested high for THMs, a chlorine byproduct of disinfecting water, with which long term exposure has been linked to cancer and other diseases.
- Though the city stated that the water was safe, the employees of the Flint Public Library declared the water undrinkable after noticing that the water from the faucets and toilets was discolored.
- On March 2, 2016, it was reported that the state of Michigan blocked Flint from returning to Lake Huron water from the Detroit water system when it agreed to grant the city an emergency loan of $7 million in April 2015
- It was discovered that the high levels of lead were due to orthophosphate being omitted from the water treatment process, while using a pH of 7.4 and that the orange water was due to the high concentration of chloride in the Flint River water, which caused excessive corrosion of the cast iron mains pipes.
Far from taking decisive action, governments denied that the water was toxic. A massive investigation is now underway and lawsuits are being filed. And things are turning uglier.
On April 16th, Water Treatment Plant Foreman Matthew McFarland (who had been interviewed regarding the water crisis) was found dead at the young age of 43. Cause of death? Unknown.
An autopsy did not determine a cause of death and police are awaiting toxicology reports. The investigation remains open.
McFarland’s death comes as Flint’s water plant deals with news that Flint Utilities Manager Michael Glasgow is one of three men facing criminal charges in connection with the city’s water crisis.
Glasgow is accused of tampering with evidence when he allegedly changed testing results to show there was less lead in city water than there actually was. He is also charged with willful neglect of office.
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality employees Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby are charged with misconduct in office, conspiracy to tamper with evidence, tampering with evidence and violations of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office confirmed that McFarland was previously interviewed as part of its ongoing investigation into the city’s water crisis.
A few days later, a 19-year old woman leading the Flint water crisis lawsuit was found shot dead in her home. A culprit was arrested. Was he a patsy?
A woman at the center of a bellwether Flint water crisis lawsuit was one of two women who were shot to death inside a townhouse earlier this week.
Sasha Avonna Bell was one of the first of a growing number of people to file a lawsuit in connection to the Flint water crisis after she claimed that her child had been lead poisoned.
Bell was found dead April 19 in the 2600 block of Ridgecrest Drive at the Ridgecrest Village Townhouses. Sacorya Renee Reed was also found shot to death in the home.
Bell’s case was one of 64 lawsuits filed on behalf of 144 children by Stern’s firm, New York-based Levy Konigsberg, and Flint-based Robinson Carter & Crawford.
The lawsuit named six companies that had various responsibilities with respect to the treatment, monitoring, and safety of the Flint water prior to and during the Flint water crisis, according to her attorneys. The case also named three individual government, or former government, employees who played significant roles in the alleged misconduct that led to the alleged poisoning of thousands of children in Flint, her attorneys claim.
The Bell case, however, played an important role in determining the future of the more than five dozen other lawsuits that were filed.