“We believe there is no evidence to support criminal charges against Governor Snyder,” defense attorney Brian Lennon said Wednesday evening, adding state prosecutors still had not provided him with details.
Lennon said Tuesday that a criminal case would be “outrageous.” Snyder and others were scheduled to appear in court on Thursday, followed by a press conference by Attorney General Dana Nessel and prosecutors.
Besides Snyder, a Republican who served as governor from 2011 to 2018, charges are expected against others, including former officials who served as director of public health and senior adviser.
The date of the alleged violation is April 25, 2014, when an emergency manager appointed by Snyder who ran the predominantly troubled black city made an economic decision to use the Flint River for water as a Lake Huron regional pipeline was under construction. .
Corrosive water, however, was not treated properly and released lead from old plumbing in homes during one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in US history.
Despite desperate pleas from residents holding jugs of discolored, skunky water, the Snyder administration took no meaningful action until a doctor reported high levels of lead in children about 18 months later.
“I’m sorry and I’ll fix it,” Snyder vowed during his 2016 State of the State address.
Authorities have counted at least 90 cases of Legionella in Genesee County, including 12 deaths. Some experts have found that there is not enough chlorine in the water treatment system to fight Legionella bacteria, which can trigger a severe form of pneumonia when spread through misting systems and cooling.
The disaster made Flint a national symbol of government dereliction, with residents forced to queue to buy bottled water and parents fearful that their children had suffered permanent harm. Lead can damage the brain and nervous system and cause learning and behavior problems. The crisis has been presented as an example of environmental injustice and racism.
More than 9,700 home lead service lines have been replaced. Flint’s water, which now comes from a regional agency in Detroit, gets good marks, though many wary residents still use filters.
The criminal investigation lasted five years under the direction of two teams of prosecutors. Todd Flood, who was convicted of a seven-person misdemeanor, was ousted in 2019 after Nessel, a Democrat, was elected. Fadwa Hammoud subsequently dropped the charges in eight pending cases and said the investigation would restart. She said the first team failed to gather all the available evidence.
Separately, the state, Flint, a hospital, and an engineering company have agreed to a $ 641 million settlement with residents over the water crisis, including $ 600 million from Michigan. A judge said she hoped to decide by Jan.21 whether or not to grant preliminary approval. Other lawsuits, including one against the US Environmental Protection Agency, are ongoing.