Official resigns over Flint crisis

EPA chief issues emergency order to restore safe water

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TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A regional director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency resigned Thursday in connection with the drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich., and EPA chief Gina McCarthy issued an emergency order directing state and city officials to take actions to protect public health.

The EPA said in a statement that Susan Hedman, head of the agency’s regional office in Chicago whose jurisdiction includes Michigan, was stepping down Feb. 1 so it could focus “solely on the restoration of Flint’s drinking water.”

High levels of lead have been detected in the impoverished city’s water since officials switched from the Detroit municipal system and began drawing from the Flint River as a cost-saving measure in April 2014.

Some children’s blood has tested positive for lead, a potent neurotoxin linked to learning disabilities, lower IQ and behavioral problems.

While much of the blame has been directed at Gov. Rick Snyder and state officials, particularly the Department of Environmental Quality, some have faulted the EPA for not acting more forcefully.