05:06 GMT29 May 2020
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    On Wednesday, members of Congress held another hearing on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and Governor Rick Snyder confirmed he will not be present once again, one day after investigators confirmed they are considering charges such as involuntary manslaughter against city officials.

    The congressional hearing, held by the Steering and Policy Committee of the US House of Representatives, does not have the power to subpoena people, but had invited Snyder to testify, an invitation which he declined.

    On Tuesday, Todd Flood, the lead investigator in a team that is looking into possible crimes committed in allowing the city’s water to become contaminated with toxic lead, confirmed to MLive that the panel is looking at a wide range of potential charges.

    "We're here to investigate what possible crimes there are, anything from the involuntary manslaughter or death that may have happened to some young person or older person because of this poisoning to misconduct in office. We take this very seriously," Flood said.

    The nine-member investigative panel includes former FBI Detroit field office head Andy Arena and Michigan State Police Retiree Ellis Stafford, a native of Flint, MLive reported.

    The team has stated that their first goal will be providing the people of Flint with restitution for the poisoning, and that they are not only looking to city coffers to get it. 

    "The city of Flint is not the only pocket. Who pays restitution in this case is going to be a very big question," Flood said.

    Just before the Congressional hearing last week, held by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the city’s former emergency manager Darnell Earley announced his resignation along with his refusal to testify, despite being subpoenaed. 

    Governor Snyder was reportedly not called to testify, despite a letter signed by the 18 Democrats on the committee to Chairman Jason Chaffetz demanding that he call upon the governor to be present.

    “At Wednesday's hearing, we won't hear from the governor, any of the emergency managers he appointed in Flint, or anyone else from the state who was involved in making decisions that led to this crisis,” Representative Elijah Cummings wrote in a statement about last week’s absence.

    Flint’s water poisoning began in April 2014, when the city stopped receiving its supply from Detroit, instead shifting to water taken directly from the Flint River, a source known to have a high corrosive salt content. Corrosive salts in the water damaged the pipes, which contain lead, causing that material to be released into the water, and contaminating it.

    In October, the state changed the city’s drinking water source back from the polluted Flint River to the Detroit water system, but warned that the water is still not safe.

    The effects of lead-poisoning cannot be reversed. Researchers at nearby Hurley Children’s Hospital have identified a "rise in blood lead levels of children less than 5 years old" who live in the area. An outbreak of Legionnaires disease, which caused 10 deaths, is also suspected to have been a result of the toxic water.

    Related:

    FBI Joins Criminal Investigation Into Flint’s Poisoned Water Crisis
    Saving Flint: 100s of Volunteers Step in Where Michigan Government Won’t
    Water Woes: EPA's Role in Flint H2O Crisis
    Tags:
    Water Crisis, Steering and Policy Committee of the US House of Representatives, Congress, Todd Flood, Governor Rick Snyder, Michigan, Flint
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