Michigan health department head charged with involuntary manslaughter over Flint crisis

June 14, 2017 by  
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Flint , Michigan is still grappling with the aftermath of the water crisis – in March mayor Karen Weaver said it may be over two years before locals will be able to drink water from the tap without using a filter. Now in a breaking development two state officials have been charged with crimes , including the state’s health department head Nick Lyon. His involuntary manslaughter charge makes Lyon the highest-ranking Michigan official charged in connection with the crisis. Lyon and Eden Wells, Michigan’s chief medical officer, have been charged in connection with the water crisis. Wells was charged with obstruction of justice as well as lying to a police officer, according to the Associated Press. Lyon, Department of Health and Human Services head, was also charged with other crimes in addition to involuntary manslaughter. For starters, he failed to notify the public of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease , according to the charges. Related: Michigan to replace thousands of Flint water lines in settlement 12 people died of Legionnaires’ disease, a serious kind of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria . The bacteria can thrive in mismanaged water systems, according to HuffPost. The publication noted these 12 deaths are the only ones directly connected to the crisis. Legionnaires’ disease isn’t caused from drinking contaminated water, in contrast with the lead poisoning in thousands of children in Flint that happened after they drank the water. Instead, someone who inhales water vapor with the bacteria in it could get the disease. The Department of Health and Human Services apparently knew about the outbreak in 2015, according to emails a watchdog group obtained. The department did notify Governor Rick Snyder’s office, but said the outbreak wasn’t a serious issue. Michigan’s attorney general continues to investigate the Flint lead crisis. Via HuffPost and ClickOnDetroit.com Images via U.S. Department of Agriculture on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Michigan health department head charged with involuntary manslaughter over Flint crisis

‘Eighth natural wonder of the world’ may have been rediscovered after 131 years

June 14, 2017 by  
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131 years ago, the eighth natural wonder of the world was thought to be lost in a volcanic eruption . The exact fate of the Pink and White Terraces at Lake Rotomahana in New Zealand was unknown, but now two researchers think the terraces may actually have survived, and could even be excavated to dazzle the world once again. During the mid-1800’s, visitors from around the planet came to view the Pink and White Terraces, pools cascading down into Lake Rotomahana. But in 1886, nearby Mount Tarawera erupted, releasing around as much energy as the biggest nuclear weapon ever detonated. Research hinted the terraces were either destroyed or pushed down into the depths of the lake. But independent researchers Rex Bunn and Dr. Sascha Nolden of the Alexander Turnbull Library think otherwise; according to them, the terraces may be preserved just 32 to 49 feet under the surface beneath mud and ash. Related: Scientists find evidence of lost continent beneath Mauritius Bunn told The Guardian the government of the 1800’s never surveyed the area, so we don’t know the exact longitude and latitude of the terraces. But the two researchers drew on unpublished 1859 survey data from 19th century geologist Ferdinand von Hochstetter to determine the German-Austrian’s location as he made his field notes to determine where the famed terraces might be today. They think the Pink and White Terraces may be in reasonable condition, able to be restored. Now they hope to begin exploring the site, if they can clinch funding. Bunn told The Guardian, “We want to undertake this work in the public interest. And I have been closely liaising with the ancestral owners of the land, the Tuhourangi Tribal Authority, and they are supportive and delighted with the work.” Nolden and Bunn aren’t the first researchers to think they’ve rediscovered the terraces. GNS Science New Zealand said in 2016 following five years of research, an international team came to the conclusion much of the terraces had been destroyed. But Bunn said he’s talked with GNS and that their conclusions may have rested on 130 years of incorrect cartographical information. Bunn and Nolden’s research was published online this month by the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand . Via The Guardian and IFLScience Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Michigan to replace thousands of Flint water lines in settlement

March 29, 2017 by  
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A judge approved a settlement with the state of Michigan today that will come as welcome news to thousands of residents: at least 18,000 homes in Flint will have their toxic water pipes replaced over the next three years. The state has committed $87 million to identify and replace any service lines containing lead or galvanized steel by 2020. The settlement marks the end of a lawsuit filed last year by Concerned Pastors for Social Action , the Natural Resources Defense Council , the American Civil Liberties Union and a resident of Flint, targeted at both city and state officials. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has praised the agreement. The $87 million used to replace the pipes will come from a variety of sources. The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, which was passed by Congress last year, will provide up to $20 million in funds, with the state matching another $20 million. The state must also hold an extra $10 million in reserve, in case the repairs end up being more expensive than anticipated. The state will also cover the $895,000 the plaintiffs ran up in litigation costs. Related: 1,700 Flint residents sue the EPA over tainted water In the meantime , residents will have to either pick up bottled water from designated locations in the city, or they’ll have to install water filters on their taps. Though the filters have been shown to render the city’s water safe for human consumption, many residents are nervous and distrustful of anything that comes out of their taps (and with good reason). The lawsuit had asked that bottled water be delivered door to door throughout the city until pipe replacement was complete, but the judge shot down that request. Via Reuters Images via Pixabay and Paul Hudson

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Michigan to replace thousands of Flint water lines in settlement

Lead pipes in Flint, Michigan are finally being replaced

December 12, 2016 by  
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Months after the Flint , Michigan water crisis emerged, residents still can’t obtain clean drinking water straight from their taps. That may be set to change as the Senate just passed a bill providing $170 million to replace lead -contaminated pipes in the beleaguered city. But the victory could come at the cost of environmental harm in California . Policymakers inserted a rider, or addition, to the bill allowing more Bay-Delta estuary water to irrigate farms, which some environmentalists fear could harm estuary wildlife . Many Flint residents have been waiting for safe, clean water since 2014. With federal government money, the city is expected to replace 29,000 service lines. Although 96 percent of samples from high-risk Flint houses met federal standards for lead, according to state officials speaking this month, the crisis has not yet been fully resolved. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said people will only be confident in the water when old lead infrastructure is replaced. The new government money could enable the city to at last put any fears to rest. Related: 6 Michigan state workers charged with misconduct over the Flint Water Crisis But not everyone is pleased with the Senate legislation. The bill providing relief to Flint includes an addition allowing more Bay-Delta water to irrigate drought-afflicted farms. According to The Guardian, the bill could make way for new desalination projects and dams. As she spoke against the bill, California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer said, “You’re destroying the Endangered Species Act,” but California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who wrote the bill with California Republican congressman Kevin McCarthy, said the legislation was the best they could do after working for three years. The organization Defenders of Wildlife issued a statement saying the rider hurt wildlife like Delta smelt and salmon. Scott Slesinger, Natural Resources Defense Council legislative director, also condemned the bill. He said in a statement , “Federal funding to help begin fixing the pipes at the heart of the Flint water crisis is shamefully overdue. This is a start, but far more is needed to fix Flint and ensure safe drinking water to communities across America. We should not have to trade delinquent Congressional action in Michigan for the erosion of endangered species protection and a threat to fishing jobs in California, but that is the result of the partisan games at play in this bill.” Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons and Mitch Barrie on Flickr

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Lead pipes in Flint, Michigan are finally being replaced

The Long Drop is an odorless composting toilet built with waste materials

December 12, 2016 by  
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This eye-catching composting toilet called The Long Drop was built entirely from scavenged and waste materials. Invisible Studio Architects designed and built the project to serve their own studio in the UK, with the aim of reducing costs and mitigating any impact on the local drainage system. The toilet features a system that eliminates foul odors thanks to a long drop from the main structure to the chamber. An exhaust fan draws air into the chamber. The chamber for solids can be easily swapped, leaving a full one to compost , while the empty one is in use. Related: Nature Loo’s Composting Toilet Puts More Distance Between You and Your (Icky) Poo Box The studio designed the project with minimal drawings, and built it with help from friends and neighbors using locally-sourced wood ; they embraced the building’s rough edges and “mistakes” as a healthy sign of improvisation. + Invisible Studio Architects

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The Long Drop is an odorless composting toilet built with waste materials

Machine purifies Flint river water on the spot for residents hit by crisis

February 22, 2016 by  
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A company from Florida traveled all the way to Michigan to provide clean drinking water to residents of Flint , who are still unable to use water from their taps due to high levels of lead and other contaminants stemming from corroded pipes. They didn’t bring trucks filled with water, though. Instead, ANSA Technologies  is sourcing water from the Flint River – the very same source that led to the water crisis in the first place – and purifying it on the spot. Read the rest of Machine purifies Flint river water on the spot for residents hit by crisis

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Urban farming utopia in India produces more energy than it uses

February 22, 2016 by  
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Flint counsel says that manslaughter charges may be possible

February 11, 2016 by  
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Investigators looking into the lead contamination of Flint, Michigan’s water supply says those leaders involved in the crisis may face charges as severe as manslaughter . The city’s corrosive tap water, in the aftermath of switching water sources in April 2014, has been the center of a public health emergency for many months, and the role played by government leaders is still being determined. Sky-high levels of lead in the water have caused thousands of children to suffer from lead poisoning , while other contaminants in the water may be linked to deaths from Legionnaires’ disease. Read the rest of Flint counsel says that manslaughter charges may be possible

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Michigan government employees drank bottled water while the public was poisoned

February 2, 2016 by  
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When news of Flint, Michigan ’s water crisis made national headlines, it sounded a lot like a struggling community’s attempt to save money that turned into a terrible accident. As time rolls on, and more details of the events leading to the present are unveiled, it’s become apparent that this was no accident at all. Although the full story has yet to be told and some facts are still buried within the shelter of government offices, much of the evidence that has been made public paints a disturbing picture that nobody expected. Flint’s water source was switched to the Flint River in early 2014 not to save money, as the public was told at the time, but for mysterious yet-unknown reasons. The unhealthy concentrations of a variety of toxins – including lead – was no secret at upper levels of state government, and yet officials repeatedly told the public that the water was safe, the situation was under control, and there was nothing to worry about – even as they stocked their offices with purified water. Nobody knew how wrong they were until it was too late. Read the rest of Michigan government employees drank bottled water while the public was poisoned

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Michigan water crisis escalates to a federal emergency, local officials come under fire

January 18, 2016 by  
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On Saturday, President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration for Michigan, spurred by the lead-tainted water supply in the city of Flint . Local and state leaders are coming under fire for failing to respond to the problem when it first arose nearly two years ago. The contaminated water has exposed thousands of residents to unhealthy amounts of lead, and blood tests show the city’s children have above-average levels of the element. Governor Rick Snyder and other state and local officials are now clamoring to respond to an emergency that many believe could have been prevented. Read the rest of Michigan water crisis escalates to a federal emergency, local officials come under fire

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