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Newly released e-mails show EPA knew about lead in Flint's drinking water

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Newly released e-mails show, as far back as February, the federal government knew of the dangers lurking in Flint's drinking water.

Documents obtained by Virginia Tech researchers reveal discussions between Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Environmental Protection Agency, and city leaders.

Inside those e-mails is communication that shows the EPA downplayed health concerns brought forward by one of its own.

February 27 Miguel Del Toral, a drinking water expert with the EPA, sent an e-mail to several people within MDEQ telling them lead was in the drinking water in Flint.

In April, he sent another memo, this time to the EPA, again warning of high lead levels in Flint's water.

All of this was more than seven months before any action was taken.

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling says he was left out of the loop.

"Experts were bringing their advice to the table and it was stuck in Lansing, and the rest of us had no idea," said Walling.

The e-mail, stating lead was in the water in Flint, was not sent to anyone within the City of Flint.

Other e-mails reveal Mayor Walling asked the EPA about Del Toral's memo. He was told it was a draft report and once it had been vetted it would be shared.

"I was shocked by the confusion," said Walling. "The EPA delegated authority to the MDEQ, information wasn't coming, what did come was bad information and it led to the serious situation that we're in now. There has to be an investigation."

What these e-mails also reveal is by mid-August the City of Flint's water plant supervisor was told by the MDEQ the city needed to put corrosion control measures in place right away, to prevent lead from getting in the drinking water.

Mayor Walling says the city reacted as quickly as it could, but says an internal investigation in the city will also be done.

"We're going to get to the bottom of everything that happened," said Walling. "We need to understand everything that happened before then, and who did what, and what they knew."

Our calls to the EPA were not returned in time for air Tuesday.

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