4. The state failed to work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on properly handling the effects of corrosion.
Although the DEQ acknowledged in October that it was not experienced in overseeing the treatment of corrosion control, the agency declined offers by the EPA to help understand the issue. As a result, neither the city nor the state properly handled corrosion, which could have prevented thousands of people from being poisoned by excessive levels of lead.
In February 2015, the EPA was concerned that the corrosion was not handled as required by federal law. In late 2015, the auditor general conducted an investigation to determine whether the state misled the EPA about properly controlling corrosion.
The state insisted that it was following the protocols, but later acknowledged that it had not and was confused about the requirements.
“It’s increasingly clear there was confusion here, but it also is increasingly clear that DEQ staff believed they were using the proper federal protocol and they were not,” Wurfel, the DEQ spokesman, wrote in October.
“Our actions reflected inexperience, and our public response to criticism was the wrong tone early in this conversation,” Wurfel continued.