Six Michigan state employees were criminally charged in district court Thursday morning for "effectively burying" evidence in connection with the Flint water crisis.
The charged employees include Michigan Department of Health and Human Services' Nancy Peeler, Corinne Miller and Robert Scott, along with Michigan Department of Environmental Quality employees Leanne Smith, Adam Rosenthal and Patrick Cook, the Detroit Free Press reports. An agent with the Michigan Attorney General's Office told the Free Press that Peeler, Miller and Scott "effectively buried" research indicating high levels of lead in children's blood from July to September 2014, and they face charges for misconduct in office, conspiracy to commit misconduct in office and wilful neglect of duty.
Smith, meanwhile, was charged with misconduct in office and wilful neglect of duty, Cook was charged with misconduct in office, conspiracy to engage in misconduct in office and wilful neglect of duty and Rosenthal was charged with misconduct in office, conspiracy to tamper with evidence or engaging in misconduct in office and tampering with evidence as a public officer engaged in wilful neglect of duty.
The contamination of Flint's water dates back to April 2014, when the city switched its water supply from Lake Huron to the nearby Flint River to save money. The river water, however, was corrosive to the city's pipes, which polluted the water supply with toxic levels of lead, leading to harmful health effects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported earlier this month that children from Flint under the age of six were significantly more likely to have elevated levels of lead in their blood after the switch.
On Jan. 5, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder formally declared a state of emergency—months after testing revealed that the water was unsafe to drink.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Todd Flood, the attorney heading the state's investigation into the crisis, will address the charges at a news conference Thursday morning.