[JURIST] Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette [official website] announced [press release] Friday that he plans to investigate the water contamination crisis in the city of Flint. The investigation is set to begin immediately as Flint residents are currently being forced to rely on bottled water for drinking, cooking and bathing. Schuette said, "[a]s attorney general, I will investigate this situation to determine if any Michigan laws have been broken." Also Friday Michigan Governor Rick Snyder asked [AP report] President Barack Obama to issue a federal disaster declaration.
Flint's drinking water supply was switched from Lake Huron water treated in Detroit to water from the Flint River treated at the Flint water treatment plant in 2014 to save money. The new supply was not treated with required corrosion control chemicals and caused lead and pathogens [report] to get into the town's water supply from pipes. Researchers from Virginia Tech concluded that lead levels were high enough to be designated as "toxic waste" [WP report]. Lead can cause mental and physical issues or death—especially in children. The National Guard was activated [CNN report] on Tuesday in order to distribute bottled water and water filters. Officials have come under fire [The Atlantic report] for their response to the crisis, as it took 20 months after the initial switch for an emergency to be declared by the state. The Justice Department has also opened an investigation [Huffington Post report] into the situation.