Saturday, October 22, 2016

IG Says EPA Late to Flint Rescue

The inspector general for the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that the agency should have issued an emergency order to protect residents of Flint, Mich., from lead-tainted water seven months before it actually did.

The watchdog found that the EPA had “the authority and sufficient information” to force state officials to fix the city’s escalating water problems in June 2015. But the EPA did not issue its emergency order until Jan. 21, long after it became clear that those state officials’ failure to properly treat the water had left the entire city — including thousands of children — exposed to elevated levels of lead.

“These situations should generate a greater sense of urgency,” Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins said in a statement Thursday. “Federal law provides the EPA with the emergency authority to intervene when the safety of drinking water is compromised. Employees must be knowledgeable, trained and ready to act when such a public health threat looms.”

Thursday’s findings come amid a broader inquiry into the federal agency’s actions in Flint. Elkins recommended the EPA update its 25-year-old internal guidance on the use of that emergency authority and require drinking-water staff to attend training on when to use it.
That's interesting because EPA isn't usually shy about exerting its authority.
In a contentious hearing on Capitol Hill this year, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy conceded that the agency was too slow to intervene in Flint’s water-contamination crisis. But she insisted that under the law, it had done all it could to protect Flint’s 95,000 residents. She refused to accept blame for the catastrophe, instead laying the responsibility on Michigan’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.
She was lucky there was one Republican in the command chain so she could pin it on him.

It must be great to be employed by an agency for which you can do no wrong. EPA employee won’t be charged in Animas River mine spill

The U.S. Attorney’s Office won’t prosecute an employee of the Environmental Protection Agency over the massive mine wastewater spill that turned the Animas River a shade of yellow.

The EPA’s Office of Inspector General said it found evidence the employee might have violated the Clean Water Act and given false statements.

But prosecutors declined to pursue the case and instead will be sent to senior EPA management for its review.

A cleanup led by the EPA at the Gold King mine above Silverton triggered the spill on Aug. 5, 2015.  The 3 million-gallon blowout sent water laced with toxic heavy metals through southwest Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.
Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Wonder Girls And Indians" up in time and under budget at The Other McCain.

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