EPA official resigns over Flint water crisis

The regional Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief responsible for Michigan is resigning amid charges that she did not do enough to prevent the Flint, Mich., drinking water crisis.

Susan Hedman, regional administrator for the EPA’s Chicago-based region 5, submitted her resignation Thursday, effective Feb. 1, the EPA said.

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“EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyLiberal group files lobbying complaint against Pruitt Trump’s budget prioritizes polluters over people Trump pulls US out of Paris deal: What it would mean MORE has accepted given Susan’s strong interest in ensuring that EPA region 5’s focus remains solely on the restoration of Flint’s drinking water,” an EPA spokeswoman said late Thursday.

Hedman told The Detroit News last week that her office knew in April 2015 that Flint’s action to switch its water supply could cause increased pipe corrosion and spiked lead levels.

She did not notify the public or take similar action, instead only pushing Michigan officials to fix the problems, the News said.

Later last year, incidents of lead poisoning among children increased substantially, leading to the crisis.

Dan Wyant, director of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality, resigned in December for his role in the problems.

Emails released Wednesday showed that the staff of Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and the environmental agency spent months last year pointing fingers at local and federal offices for the lead problem as they downplayed concerns.

The EPA also sent a letter to Snyder Thursday officially declaring that Flint is violating federal drinking water rules and must work quickly to fix them.

McCarthy said the EPA “is deeply concerned by continuing delays and lack of transparency and has determined that the actions required by the order … are essential to ensuring the safe operation of Flint’s drinking water system and the protection of public health.”

The state must tell the EPA within a day how it intends to comply, and the agency will implement a sampling system to ensure compliance.

McCarthy spoke with Snyder about the crisis Thursday and also sent an agency-wide memo instructing staff how to tell their superiors about potential public health problems.

President Obama declared a state of emergency for Flint on Saturday and dispatched EPA, Health and Human Services and Federal Emergency Management Agency employees to help the state.