01.27.16

Peters, Stabenow & Kildee to Introduce Public Notification Bill to Prevent Another Flint Water Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U. S. Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow and Congressman Dan Kildee announced that they will be introducing legislation to clarify the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to notify the public if there is a danger from lead in their water system. The bill would direct the EPA to notify residents and health departments if the amount of lead found in a public water system requires action in the absence of notification by the State. The legislation also allows the EPA to release results of any lead monitoring conducted by public water systems. Currently, the responsibility for notification lies at the local and state level.

“It is clear the State of Michigan did not fulfill their responsibility to prevent lead from leaching into Flint’s drinking water system or to make the public aware of the danger in their drinking water,” said Senator Peters. “There are a number of steps that need to be taken to both mitigate the long-term effects of lead exposure on Flint residents and ensure this type of situation never happens again, and this legislation will make it clear the EPA can take action if a state is dragging their feet and endangering the health of its residents.”

"When the people of Flint raised concerns about the safety of their water, the EPA tested that water and found that it was dangerous to drink," said Senator Stabenow. "The State of Michigan chose to criticize and ignore those findings, which has caused irreversible harm to potentially a generation of children. This bill will give the EPA clear legal authority to provide notice to the public when a state is not taking action on a public health safety crisis."

“The Flint water crisis is a failure of government, particularly at the state level, and necessary changes need to be made to existing law to ensure that another public health emergency like this never happens again,” said Congressman Kildee. “The state has a moral responsibility to act, and it must do more to help make sure that Flint families and children get the immediate and-long term resources they need to help cope with this terrible crisis.”

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality was made aware that a number of residences in Flint were experiencing high lead levels and that there were no corrosion control measures in place in the Flint water system. Yet the State failed for months to properly alert Flint residents of the health risks in the water system. The bill introduced by Peters, Stabenow and Kildee would address this delay in public notification.