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US & Canada
US & Canada

Flint water crisis: Prosecutors drop all criminal charges

  • 14 June 2019
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Media captionFlint resident Melissa Mays: "Our hair fell out"

Prosecutors have dropped all criminal charges against the eight remaining officials awaiting trial over the deadly contamination of water in the US city of Flint in 2014.

They said a more thorough investigation was needed.

Twelve people died after the Michigan city switched its water supply to the Flint River in order to save money.

An outbreak of Legionnaires' disease followed, and residents were found to have drunk water poisoned with lead.

Nearly 100,000 residents of Flint were left without safe tap water and at risk of lead poisoning.

Seven officials had already taken plea bargains.

The mayor of Flint, Karen Weaver, welcomed the prosecutors' decision to drop all charges:

"I was happy with the announcement that was made today because it let's us know they're taking us seriously.

"They know justice has not happened for the residents of the city of Flint and that we deserve a full investigation."

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Media captionWhy America's drinking water crisis goes beyond Flint

Prosecutors who assumed control of the investigation in January after a new attorney general was elected said "all available evidence was not pursued" by the previous team of prosecutors.

Some residents were sceptical after Thursday's announcement.

"We don't know if new charges will be filed," LeeAnne Walters, who is credited with exposing the lead contamination, told Associated Press.

"It feels kind of degrading, like all that we went through doesn't matter. Our city was poisoned, my children have health issues and the people responsible just had all the charges dropped against them."

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Bottled water was distributed to help residents caught up in the crisis

The contamination was traced to the city switching its water supply away from Detroit's system, which draws from Lake Huron, and instead using water from the Flint river.

Flint was in a financial state of emergency and the switch was meant to save the city millions of dollars.

But the water from the river was more corrosive than Lake Huron's water, causing lead - a powerful neurotoxin - to leach from the pipes.

The city has since switched back to using Detroit's water system.

More on this story

  • Environment prize goes to Flint water activist
    23 April 2018
  • Video Why America's drinking water crisis goes beyond Flint
    28 November 2017
  • Video Flint water contamination: Tap water 'made our hair fall out'
    19 January 2016
  • Flint water crisis: Living one bottle of water at a time
    22 January 2016

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