Native EPA employees did not correctly alert national-level colleagues to steer contamination within the water in a Michigan metropolis, an inner watchdog mentioned Thursday.
A brand new report issued by the workplace of the EPA’s inspector normal famous that employees within the EPA’s Midwest area didn’t use the company’s “elevation coverage” to alert nationwide officers in regards to the presence of lead within the water in Benton Harbor, Mich.
The coverage in query was developed in 2016 after the Flint water disaster uncovered residents to steer of their faucet water, the report mentioned.
It mentioned that the Benton Harbor state of affairs — the place the native water system was discovered to have extra ranges of lead, a neurotoxin — met 4 of the 5 standards for elevation to the nationwide stage, together with a considerable risk to public well being.
The report concludes that this “calls into query the circumstances underneath which employees would elevate any concern.”
Youngsters are significantly weak to steer publicity, which may trigger them mind and nervous system harm, slowed progress and improvement and different issues with studying, conduct, listening to and speech.
The report notes that an EPA employees member who was concerned in monitoring Michigan’s response to the problem in Benton Harbor mentioned the state was addressing the problem in a well timed method.
In an official response, the EPA’s regional workplace serving a number of Midwest states blasted the report as inaccurate.
A letter from officers on the EPA’s Midwest workplace mentioned that regional employees did alert the EPA administrator by way of “regular elevation channels” fairly than a separate channel.
They mentioned that the administrator’s senior-level crew “had ample alternative to evaluate and suggest steps for resolving the problems” and famous that then-EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler visited the city in 2020 and introduced a grant to switch its lead service traces.
In addition they mentioned that there are tons of of circumstances of extra air pollution within the area and mentioned that “if Company employees had been to invoke the elevation coverage to raise any subject that meets a few of the elevation coverage standards, the separate elevation channel can be utterly overwhelmed.”
Reached for remark, the company additionally issued a written assertion saying that EPA’s involvement was “instrumental to driving actions to make sure that the folks of Benton Harbor are protected against publicity to steer in consuming water.”
“EPA labored carefully with Michigan, the town of Benton Harbor, and the consuming water system on short-term options, together with offering bottled water to residents whereas expeditiously working to switch all lead service traces within the metropolis,” the EPA mentioned.
In the meantime, the nationwide EPA workplace in its official response famous that the elevation coverage was reaffirmed in December and mentioned it’s “efficient and dealing as supposed.”
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