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EPA official resigns amid Flint water crisis

Posted at 5:35 PM, Jan 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-21 18:58:54-05

A regional director with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is resigning in connection with the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

EPA chief Gina McCarthy says Thursday that Susan Hedman is stepping down effective Feb. 1. Hedman is administrator of EPA's Region 5, which is based in Chicago and includes Michigan.

McCarthy said she accepted Hedman's resignation to ensure the regional office remains solely focused on the restoration of Flint's drinking water.

McCarthy also said she has issued an emergency order to "ensure the state and city immediately take actions necessary to protect public health.

Michigan officials said they aren't certain whether there's a link between a drinking water crisis in Flint and an increase in local cases of Legionnaires' Disease.

A report Thursday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said nine people died of the bacterial illness between June 2014 and October 2015 in Genesee County, which includes Flint. That's down from the 10 fatal cases reported earlier this month. Officials said the number was changed after they found some deaths weren't considered to have been caused by Legionnaires.

Eighty-seven Legionnaires' disease cases were confirmed between June 2014 and November 2015. About one-third of the infected people's homes received Flint water, which was found to have elevated lead levels after the city began drawing from the Flint River.