Down the wrong path

Apparently Michigan’s brand new Attorney General plans to revisit the already-misguided response to the Flint water crisis.

The votes are in and Democratic candidate Dana Nessel will be the next attorney general of Michigan. Nessel is set to replace Republican Bill Schuette, who lost his bid to be the next governor of Michigan. Now, the Democrat is set to tackle marijuana legalization and civil rights issues, as well as the myriad of environmental problems facing Michigan, including the ongoing Flint water crisis investigation.

[ … ]

“I have long been a critic of the way in which Bill Schuette has handled the Flint water crisis investigation,” Nessel told Bridge, a news site run by the Center for Michigan, a nonprofit think tank. “He is merely an opportunist who has used the crisis to further his political ambitions via a series of politically charged show trials.” As attorney general, Nessel promised to “re-evaluate” the investigation and any pending cases “as the entire process has been highly suspect.”

The biggest problem confronting the investigation is that the investigators have no idea how engineering work is done.

The Associated Press captured and reported the exact moment when everything went awry.

Mike Glasgow, the plant’s laboratory supervisor at the time, says he asked district engineer Mike Prysby of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality how often staffers would need to check the water for proper levels of phosphate, a chemical they intended to add to prevent lead corrosion from the pipes. Prysby’s response, according to Glasgow: “You don’t need to monitor phosphate because you’re not required to add it.”

Recalling the meeting Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press, Glasgow said he was taken aback by the state regulator’s instruction; treating drinking water with anti-corrosive additives was routine practice. Glasgow said his gaze shifted to a consulting firm engineer in attendance, who also looked surprised.

“Then,” Glasgow said, “we went on to the next question.”

Both EPA regulations, and the actual condition of the water supply, required the addition of phosphate. If Prysby were competent, or if the consulting engineer or Glasgow had stepped-up to their ethical duty to resist Prysby’s incompetence, there would have been no tainted water supply or Legionnaires outbreak, there would have been no cover-up, there would be no second-guessing the Emergency Manager’s decision to change the water supply. Everything arises out of that meeting.

What steps have been taken by the state to properly partition designers’ responsibilities? There has been nothing about it in the newspapers, and I doubt that politicians and lawmakers have done anything. Given the preoccupation with bashing former Governor Snyder, and bashing the Attorney General, it appears they don’t actually understand yet what happened.

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.