domingo, 17 de janeiro de 2016

GLOBE NEWS · ALERT-URGENT-GULF NEWS-Obama declares emergency over foul water in Michigan

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Obama declares emergency over foul water in Michigan

Move frees up federal aid to help an area affected by contaminated water
Image Credit: AP
St. Clair Shores resident Terra Castro wipes away tears as she takes a moment to reflect on the state of emergency in Flint while dropping off more than 500 cases of bottled water with about 20 Detroit-based volunteers. President Barack Obama has signed an emergency declaration for Flint, Michigan, that clears the way for federal aid to the city undergoing a drinking water crisis.
Gulf News
Washington: US President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Michigan late on Saturday, freeing up federal aid to help an area affected by contaminated water, the White House said.
Obama declared that “an emergency exists in the state of Michigan and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts,” a White House statement read.
The move was “due to the emergency conditions in the area affected by contaminated water,” it added.
The White House also said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will coordinate all disaster relief efforts to “alleviate the hardship and suffering” of residents. FEMA has been authorised to provide water, filters, cartridges and other items for 90 days.
Flint can get up to $5 million (Dh18.36 million) in direct funding, though the state must match 25 per cent and more money can come through an act of Congress.
Republican Governor Rick Snyder requested emergency and disaster declarations late on Thursday, saying needs “far exceed the state’s capability,” and added that emergency measures could cost $41 million.
Snyder said Saturday that Obama denied the disaster declaration request based on the legal requirement that such relief is intended for natural events, fires, floods or explosions.
Despite the legal limitation, the governor is considering an appeal to exhaust “every opportunity to provide resources” for residents, Snyder spokesman Dave Murray said.
Authorities in the state have been dealing with a major health crisis over lead-contaminated water that arose from cost-cutting measures implemented in the city of Flint, home to some 100,000 people.
Problems arose after state officials ignored months of health warnings about the foul-smelling water as residents complained that it was making them sick.
Residents soon began complaining that the foul, cloudy water was making them vomit, break out in rashes and lose their hair.
The tap water in Flint became contaminated after the city switched from the Detroit water system to the Flint River while a pipeline to Lake Huron is under construction.
The decision to use the river was made while a Snyder-appointed emergency manager was running city government due to its financial problems. The corrosive water from the Flint River lacked adequate treatment and caused lead to leach from old pipes in homes and schools.
Flint returned to the Detroit system in October after elevated lead levels were discovered in children, and could tap into the new pipeline by summer. But officials remain concerned that old pipes could continue to leach lead, to which exposure can cause behavior problems and learning disabilities in children as well as kidney ailments in adults.
The National Guard has been distributing free water, filters and other supplies, and FEMA workers already were providing logistical and technical support.
Democratic US Senator Debbie Stabenow said she will push for long-term resources, and US Congressman Dan Kildee, also a Democrat, said residents “deserve every resource available to make sure they have safe water and are able to recover from this terrible man-made disaster created by the state.”
The US Justice Department is helping the Environmental Protection Agency investigate the matter, and state Attorney-General Bill Schuette has opened his own probe, which could focus on whether environmental laws were broken or if there was official misconduct.

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