Facts from the courtroom
April 13, 2022

Ms. Kelly’s testimony confirms that government officials withheld critical information from the Flint community

On April 12th, Ms. Melinda Kelly testified in the courtroom. Ms. Kelly is the grandmother of plaintiff Emir Sherrod. Here’s what you need to know.

While VNA was engaged in Flint, City officials discovered exceptionally high levels of lead in the tap water at the home of LeeAnne Walters. They withheld this information from VNA.

  • In an email dated February 24, 2015 and sent to a number of Flint officials, Flint water plant operator Michael Glasgow wrote that he received results from LeeAnne Walters’ home and that “the level of lead was 104 ppb.”
  • Mr. Glasgow’s email went on to say, “the limit on lead is 15 ppb” and that, “there is definitely a pressing issue here.”
  • Approximately 30 minutes later, former Flint Water Distribution Supervisor Robert Bincsik replied that, “Marvin [Gnagy] from Veolia mentioned to me he thought we needed to add phosphate to our water to help prevent this.”
  • Mr. Gnagy confirmed that he said this to Mr. Bincsik on VNA’s first day at the water treatment plant.
  • Mr. Gnagy also confirmed that he interacted with Mr. Glasgow at the Flint water plant “on a daily basis,” and yet Mr. Glasgow never told him about the high lead result.
  • Nobody from Veolia was included in the email from Mr. Glasgow detailing Ms. Walters’ high lead test results, and nobody from the City of Flint ever shared this critical information with VNA

Ms. Kelly’s testimony confirmed that government officials repeatedly misled and withheld critical information from the Flint community regarding the safety of the water. 

  • Ms. Kelly testified that former Mayor of Flint Dayne Walling visited Ms. Kelly’s home and told her that the water was safe. 
  • After his visit to her home, Ms. Kelly saw Mayor Walling and former Flint Director of Public Works Howard Croft explaining that the water was safe on the local news.
  • Ms. Kelly stated that Mr. Croft had been her neighbor, and that he told her directly that the water was safe.

VNA had no way of knowing that City officials were lying to them and their own constituents about lead in Flint’s tap water and had no power to fix the problem.

  • VNA’s one-week engagement in Flint specifically stipulated that they were to provide recommendations to address TTHMs, a cancer-causing chemical, and aesthetic concerns, including color. 
  • Almost immediately, VNA identified that the water was corrosive and requested the City’s lead testing data, which showed the water to comply with state and federal standards. 
  • Still, VNA’s experts recommended that the City add corrosion control to its treatment processes to avoid a lead problem in the future—a recommendation that was never implemented.
  • Critically, Flint officials learned of a high lead result at the home of LeeAnne Walters while VNA was on the ground in Flint, and never alerted VNA
  • Government officials ignored all but one of VNA’s recommendations and declined offers from VNA to assist with the implementation of its recommendations after its one-week engagement had concluded.