Miguel Del Toral works as a regulations manager for the Environmental Protection Agency and was assigned to investigate the water issues in Flint, Michigan in early 2015. According to Del Toral and various congressional investigators, he ended up being punished by the EPA for blowing the whistle on the water crisis — well before it became a national news story.
A major piece of evidence, an email in which Del Toral complained of mistreatment by his supervisors, was released in mid-March.
The water problems in Flint have been well-publicized in recent weeks and months, as thousands of people in the city were exposed to high levels of lead found in the water. Governor Rick Snyder admitted the state did not properly ensure Flint treated the water to prevent it from corroding lead pipes, which led to the lead coming through people’s faucets. When lead enters the body, even small amounts can cause permanent brain damage in children.
Del Toral drafted a memo outlining the problem in June 2015, and a reporter obtained a copy of it from a Flint resident. The mayor of Flint looked to the EPA for assistance, as state water authorities had claimed the water was fine. An EPA administrator sent an email back to the mayor saying the draft should not have been released and refused to answer any questions about the report.
Other released emails show Del Toral was denied permission by the EPA to attend a meeting with a number of public health officials in Milwaukee, Wisconsin — which he believed was because of his work in Flint. The EPA claims it did nothing wrong by not immediately notifying the public or issuing a violation to the city of Flint.
Whistleblowers can make a difference, and Del Toral is being called a hero by some for fighting against the EPA and attempting to bring these issues to light. If you would like more information on how to handle these types of claims within your organization, speak with an experienced Dallas attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers.