A little over a week ago, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder released hundreds of pages of e-mails related to Flint from 2014 and 2015. One of the attachments, an assessment of Flint’s water system by a private water corporation, is very significant.
In February 2015, almost a full year before the news of widespread lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan, gained headlines, the world’s largest private water corporation, Veolia, deemed Flint’s water safe. They were hired by the city to assess the discolored water that many residents had been complaining about—a General Motors plant had even stopped using Flint’s water because it was rusting car parts.
But while Veolia, a French transnational corporation, deemed Flint’s water to be “in compliance with State and Federal regulations,” they concluded that “aging cast-iron pipe” was creating “aesthetic issues including taste, odor, and discoloration.”
Their report didn’t mention lead, but they recommended spending $50,000 to add corrosion control chemicals to Flint’s drinking water because iron was leaching from the city’s pipes.
The city didn’t heed Veolia’s advice, but regardless, someone should have known that lead was likely leaching into Flint’s water as well.
According to Joan Rose, former chairwoman of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking water committee, “If you’ve got iron sloughing off (the pipes), you’ve got other metals sloughing off, including lead.”