Email Suggests Officials Knew of Link Between Flint Water and Legionnaires Outbreak
One of the big questions in the Flint water crisis is who knew what and when. According to the AP, the Michigan governor’s office knew more than they’ve let on—and were aware of the problems as far back as last March, when his office received an email linking Flint to an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has always maintained that he learned of a spike in Legionnaires cases sometime in early January. But the emails, obtained by the group Progress Michigan and reported by the AP, suggest his office was briefed in March. Via the AP:
“The increase of the illnesses closely corresponds with the timeframe of the switch to the Flint River water. The majority of the cases reside or have an association with the city,” Jim Henry, Genesee County’s environmental health supervisor, wrote March 10 to Flint leaders, the city’s state-appointed emergency financial manager and the state Department of Environmental Quality, known as the DEQ.
“This situation has been explicitly explained to MDEQ and many of the city’s officials,” Henry said in the email that was forwarded by the DEQ to a Snyder aide three days later. “I want to make sure in writing that there are no misunderstandings regarding this significant and urgent public health issue.”
Flint residents were already complaining about the water quality at the time the emails were sent.
Brad Wurfel, a DEQ spokesperson, followed up on the email, telling a Snyder aide in an email that although there appeared to be a “serious” issue with the water supply, he felt it would be “highly unlikely” to find Legionnaires bacteria around the water treatment plant. He has since resigned.