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Tale of Two Rivers Part 2: EPA Criminally Investigates Flint, Not Gold King Mine

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Ethan Barton Managing Editor

Federal officials launched a criminal investigation into the contamination of Flint, Mich.’s drinking water, but the same can’t be said for the Gold King Mine disaster from nearly five months ago.

Federal prosecutors are “working with a multi-agency investigation team on the Flint water contamination matter, including the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, [Environmental Protection Agency] office of inspector general and EPA’s criminal investigation division,” U.S. Attorney’s Detroit Office Spokeswoman Gina Balaya told the Detroit Free Press Tuesday.

Flint’s crisis began in April 2014 when the city switched water supplies to the Flint River. The more corrosive water ate away at lead pipes after officials failed to properly treat them, which allowed the metal to enter the drinking supply of an unknown number of homes.

August’s Gold King Mine incident in Colorado still hasn’t been criminally investigated, even though an EPA contractor spilled three million gallons of waste into the Animas River, poisoning drinking water for three states and the Navajo Nation.

It’s likely that many details surrounding the spill will remain hidden without a criminal investigation, The Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported. No one has been punished or fired for the incident.

The contractor who caused the spill – which has been kept secret because of a likely nonexistent hush agreement with the EPA – even profited from the disaster.

In Michigan, however, government officials at all levels have faced pressure over Flint’s water crisis. The EPA’s regional head and Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality director both quit, and a Flint official announced his resignation, effective Feb. 29.

President Barack Obama even condemned Michigan officials, but was silent when his own agency poisoned drinking water.

The EPA refused to say why it chose to criminally investigate one man-made incident, but not the other.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan is leading a criminal investigation regarding Flint, and EPA is assisting,” EPA spokeswoman Monica Lee told TheDCNF. She added that the agency is using Department of the Interior and inspector general analyses to “help inform how we move forward.”

EPA officials were accused of trying to undermine the IG’s investigation, TheDCNF previously reported.

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