Former Genesee County health officer takes the stand during Flint water hearing

Former health officer from the Genesee County Health Department, Mark Valacak testified about issues with the state during a Flint water hearing. (Photo: Kelli Taylor)

FLINT, Mich. --Genesee County's former health department director says he was offended and humiliated by actions of the state's top medical executive, Dr. Eden Wells.

Both the county health department and the state were accusing each other of not working together to inform Flint residents sooner about legionella.

A key figure in the water crisis testified about issues with the state.

The former health officer from the Genesee County Health Department, Mark Valacak, retired in November after 40 years with the department.

Related: Genesee County Health Officer retiring after 40 years of service

He blamed Michigan Department of Health and Human Services what he called poor communication on issues related to Flint water, including elevated lead and legionella.

He says on several occasions he tried to get information from the department and Dr. Wells, but was rebuffed or delayed.


So he reached out to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta but was told by the state that the legionella outbreak here didn't warrant it.

In cross-examination, the defense questioned why Valacak didn't issue a public health notice about legionella in Flint in 2015.

Twelve people died and this case rests on whether alerting the public sooner could have saved their lives.

MDHHS signed off on a news release by December, but Valacak didn’t put it out, saying he wanted his staff to look over it.

The governor finally told the public about it a month later.

Valacak says he was also afraid of retaliation from the state since it partially controls his former departments budget.


The hearing of Dr. Wells resumes Wednesday.

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