Veolia North America Sets the Record Straight on Flint Water Crisis Litigation: officials responsible should be held accountable and pay for the damages caused
Article in The Guardian; MLive says, "Water company and city officials knew about Flint poison risk": false! The city officials knew, and concealed the information from VNA.
FLINT, Mich., December 10, 2019 -- The professionals from our company who arrived in Flint in good faith were used and duped, and now our good name and corporate reputation are being used as a shield against the public outrage directed at the city, the state and the federal government.
Instead of helping bring justice and truth to the people of Flint, this article contributes to AG Nessel's misguided campaign to divert attention away from the state and city officials' blatant wrongdoing, and find a scapegoat and a deep pocket. Along with the plaintiffs' lawyers, the AG seeks to create a corporate villain where one does not exist.
They merely cherry pick evidence, selectively assembling documents with the principal objective of extorting money from Veolia North America (VNA) by any means possible.
We regret that The Guardian and MLive have not shared with their readers critical evidence, provided to them by VNA, that clearly shows:
- First and foremost, the Flint water crisis was caused by the City of Flint's decision to switch the City's water source to the Flint River.
- The City of Flint had a long term contract with LAN Engineering when the City made this ill-advised decision. VNA was not in Flint at this time.
- VNA was brought in early 2015, nine months after the water switch, immediately after the THM crisis in December 2014, for a one-month assignment to address this sanitary emergency.
- Our professionals first raised a potential lead issue alerted by the University of Michigan water fountain testing. Our engineers requested test results from the City. They reviewed them. Those results clearly indicated the absence of any lead issue at the time. VNA discovered years later that the test results provided by the City were manipulated by public officials: they concealed from VNA, and from everyone else, the increased lead levels. Veolia's employees were at no time made aware of confirmed lead problems in Flint. As professionals, we recognized that lead levels could become a problem in the future and issued a wide set of recommendations that were simply ignored by the City.
- The overwhelming majority of our recommendations were never implemented by the City.
- VNA was hired specifically to analyze test results for a cancer-causing chemical called THM, as Ron Fonger from MLive reported himself in his February 20, 2015 article here . The City, as expressly stated in the contract, directed our mission specifically on this issue together with color, smell and taste of the water. This is clearly documented by emails exchanged at the time between public officials.
- Flint officials made it clear in writing that they did not want VNA to analyze for lead or to raise the possibility of returning to Detroit Water.
- Most shockingly, while our engineers were onsite trying to help resolve these issues, alarmingly high lead testing results were obtained and discussed by the City of Flint, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
- These government officials discussed and were unable to take any decision in this regard. Worse still, they concealed this alarming information from VNA and from the public before the crisis forced them to acknowledge the problem.
Despite all this, VNA did recommend corrosion control and did ask the City to consider returning to its original water source. As reported by Ron Fonger in his February 20, 2015 MLive article, "Veolia wasn't asked to consider the option of reconnecting to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department as Flint waits for completion of the Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline to Lake Huron as its long term water source." Indeed, officials told our two engineers unequivocally, orally and in writing that such a move back to Detroit would be "incomprehensible" because of the perceived costs involved.
Following their review, our engineers as well as Erin Brockovich's expert, Robert Bowcock, determined that the Flint River water was treatable should their respective recommendations be implemented. Just recently, the Michigan Seventh Circuit Court dismissed virtually all of the state's 39 cases against VNA, including claims for professional negligence, negligence, punitive damages and exemplary damages, not merely on procedural grounds as wrongly claimed by The Guardian.
Numerous investigations have concluded in no uncertain terms that government officials at the city, state and federal level bear the full brunt of responsibility in the Flint water crisis. Many of the government officials who made the decisions that caused the crisis were subsequently charged criminally. Yet, the Attorney General's lawsuit against VNA seeks to deflect blame away from these officials. AG Nessel has still not refiled charges against those officials.
All the evidence and answers provided to The Guardian and MLive can be found here for those interested in the truth. We feel for the people of Flint and we encourage everyone to explore this website.