“There are no excuses,” Sanders said in a campaign release. “The governor long ago knew about the lead in Flint’s water. He did nothing. As a result, hundreds of children were poisoned. Thousands may have been exposed potential brain damage from lead.”
Sanders said “the people of Flint deserve more than an apology,” noting that those affected could develop brain damage or other diseases as a result of drinking contaminated water. Flint is located northwest of Detroit.
Sanders’ opponent in the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton, also criticized Snyder this week, responding to the controversy on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
“I would be doing everything I could, and I would be expecting everybody in a position of authority to do the same,” she said.
The campaign of Sanders, who has taken a lead over Clinton in both Iowa and New Hampshire, sees some potential in Michigan, which holds its primary on March 8, one week after Super Tuesday.
Snyder’s press secretary, David Murray, responded to Sanders’ comments Saturday, saying “political statements, and finger pointing from political candidates not involved in finding solutions for Flint, only serve to distract from solving this crisis.”
Snyder has requested the declaration of a federal emergency as well as $96 million in disaster relief. He declared a state of emergency in Flint on Jan. 5, and activated the National Guard. President Barack Obama signed the emergency declaration for Michigan on Saturday.
Snyder first became aware of the lead issue Oct. 1, 2015, the statement said. Snyder has served as governor since 2011.
The water contamination is a result of the city’s switch from the Detroit water system to the Flint River as a source of drinking water.