Just hours before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee began today’s hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) role in the Flint water crisis, Detroit Free Press reported yesterday (February 2) that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating the matter with an eye toward uncovering possible criminal actions.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is working with a multi-agency investigation team on the Flint water contamination matter, including the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, EPA’s Office of Inspector General and the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division,” Gina Balaya, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Michigan’s eastern district, said yesterday in a statement.
The U.S. Attorney’s office—which works hand and hand with the FBI—had previously confirmed that it was assisting the EPA’s investigation, but did not disclose if it was a civil or criminal probe. And Jill Washburn, a Detroit-based spokeswoman for the FBI, also confirmed the FBI’s involvement. “Our role is to determine whether or not there have been federal violations,” she said.
Residents in Flint have be drinking lead-tainted water since 2014, when the Michigan city switched its water source in an attempt to cut costs. The result has been elevated lead levels among the youngest people in the predominantly Black city.