Flint counsel: Manslaughter charge possible for water crisis

Posted at 12:48 PM, Feb 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-09 12:48:20-05

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A special counsel appointed to investigate the lead contamination of Flint's water says the harshest criminal charge could include involuntary manslaughter.

Todd Flood suggested manslaughter as a possibility during a meeting with reporters Tuesday. He says government officials might face that charge if they were grossly negligent in breaching a duty.

Flood and others appointed by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette remain in the early stages of their probe into the potential violation of civil or criminal laws. Flint's water is contaminated from lead pipes, and experts have suggested a link between the city's water switch and a Legionnaires' disease outbreak in which some people died.

Flood says restitution will be a "very big issue" to ensure the people are held accountable.

Schuette says he does not know how long the investigation will take.

Working on a plan

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says officials are working on a plan to remove and replace all lead water pipes as the city seeks solutions to its lead-tainted water crisis.

Weaver said at a news conference on Tuesday that the work is expected to cost $55 million. Households where residents are deemed to be high-risk would be given priority for pipe replacement.

State officials disconnected Flint from Detroit's water supply in 2014 and began using the Flint River to save money. Regulators failed to ensure the new water was treated properly and lead from pipes leached into the water supply, contributing to a spike in child lead exposure.

Weaver said that Flint is "going to restore safe drinking water one house at a time, one child at a time."