FLINT, Mich. (AP/WLUC) - The Latest on criminal charges dropped in the Flint water scandal (all times local):
Prosecutors stunningly dropped all criminal charges Thursday against eight people in the Flint water scandal and pledged to start the investigation from scratch.
The defendants include Michigan's former health director, Nick Lyon, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter. He was accused of failing to timely alert the public about an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease that occurred in 2014-15 when Flint was drawing improperly treated water from the Flint River. That led to residents' water being tainted with lead.
Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud, who took control of the investigation in January after the election of a new attorney general, said "all available evidence was not pursued" by the previous team of prosecutors.
"This week, we completed the transfer into our possession millions of documents and hundreds of new electronic devices, significantly expanding the scope of our investigation," Hammoud and Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement.
"Our team's efforts have produced the most comprehensive body of evidence to date related to the Flint water crisis. We are now in the best possible position to find the answers the citizens of Flint deserve and hold all responsible parties accountable," they said.
They said it is possible that Lyon and others could be charged again.
Flint was one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in U.S. history. While waiting for a new pipeline to bring water from Lake Huron, the majority-black city of 100,000 pulled water from the Flint River without treating it to reduce corrosive effects on old pipes. Lead infected the distribution system in Flint, where 41% of residents are classified by the government as living in poverty.
Due to poor finances, Flint was being run by financial managers appointed by the governor. The uproar over water quality reached a peak by fall 2015 when a doctor reported high levels of lead in children, which can cause brain damage.
Some experts also have linked the water to Legionnaires' disease, a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria that thrive in warm water and infect the lungs. People can get sick if they inhale mist or vapor, typically from cooling systems.
The city's water no longer comes from the river and has significantly improved, but some residents are so distrustful that they continue to use bottled water.
Three years after the investigation began, no one is behind bars . Seven of 15 defendants have pleaded no contest to misdemeanors. Their records will eventually be scrubbed clean. Charges were pending against eight people, including former Michigan chief medical executive Eden Wells and two men who were state-appointed emergency managers in Flint.
(Read the full release from the Department of Attorney General in the related documents of this story).
Prosecutors say they're dismissing all criminal charges against eight people in the Flint water scandal and starting the investigation over again.
The eight people include former Michigan health director Nick Lyon. He was accused of failing to timely inform the public about an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease when Flint was using improperly treated water from the Flint River in 2014 and 2015.
The outbreak occurred at the same time that the city's water system was contaminated with lead.
Lyon was the highest-ranking official to be charged in the investigation.
Michigan officials are ordering a Flint hospital to take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria and Legionnaires' disease at the facility.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs on Wednesday ordered McLaren Flint Hospital to "immediately correct conditions."
Hospital spokeswoman Rosemary Plorin says in an email that the hospital believes the order "is unfounded and represents the state's continuous efforts to shift blame for their bad decisions made five years ago onto our hospital."
Flint, while under state financial management, switched to the Flint River for water in 2014 without treating it to reduce corrosion. Lead leached from pipes, contaminating the system. At the same time, a deadly Legionnaires' disease outbreak occurred that led to criminal charges against government officials.
Legionnaires' is a severe form of pneumonia caused by water-borne bacteria.
(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press.)