Sunday, February 14, 2016

EPA Passed on Pb Enforcement in Flint

Despite knowing of lead in water, EPA planned to let Flint keep drinking it into 2016
Four months after being notified about high lead levels in a Flint home, the Environmental Protection Agency was prepared to let the city continue giving lead-contaminated water to customers until at least 2016, emails released Friday show.

Jennifer Crooks, the Michigan program manager for the EPA's Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, sent out an agenda on June 8, 2015, for a planned call with Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials.

In that email, Crooks said it was known that Flint had not been adding any corrosion-control chemicals to its water to prevent lead from leaching from the pipes into drinking water since April 2014. She said the city was in its second six-month testing period.

It didn't make sense for the city to start a corrosion control program in June 2015, Crooks wrote. "Since Flint has lead service lines, we understand some citizen-requested lead sampling is exceeding the Action Level, and the source of drinking water will be changing again in 2016, so to start a Corrosion Control Study now doesn't make sense," Crooks wrote.

"The idea to ask Flint to simply add phosphate may be premature; there are many other issues and factors that must be taken into account which would require a comprehensive look at the water quality and the system before any treatment recommendations can/should be made."
Phosphate is a relatively cheap, innocuous, (even nutritional) chemical which forms insoluble lead phosphate on the lead surface of the pipe, preventing further corrosion of the pipe. It's a bad idea to use lead pipe (it hasn't been done since the 1930s). but if there are lead pipes in a system, it is important that lead corrosion be considered and phosphate added if warranted. Waiting 2 years is not an option.
The email was sent almost four months after EPA researcher Miguel Del Toral was made aware of high lead in Flint's water.
It's only a problem if you can blame a Republican.

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