Ex-Flint water plant chief lied on forms to alert DEQ

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

Flint — The former water utilities administrator for Flint said he purposely lied on at least two water sampling forms in a bid to alert Michigan Department of Environmental Quality employees that the city wasn’t following lead and copper rules.

But Michael Glasgow, who spoke about the two required samplings of lead and copper in various people’s homes, said DEQ water regulators never picked up on the inconsistencies on the state lead and copper report and consumer notice forms.

Glasgow was back on the stand Thursday in a hearing for four DEQ employees charged with crimes related to the Flint lead-contaminated water crisis. The testimony came in the preliminary exam hearings for water regulators Stephen Busch, Michael Prysby and Patrick Cook as well as Liane Shekter Smith, the fired former head of the DEQ division responsible for overseeing Flint’s water source switch.

Glasgow admitted that the reports he gave regarding the samplings “are not consistent.”

“Who regulates this for you,” asked Special Prosecutor Todd Flood.

“The DEQ,” Glasgow said.

A few minutes earlier, Flood asked, “Why are you lying on that form?”

The former water administrator replied, “Just to bring it to light.”

Glasgow also said he had conversations with state water regulators Prysby and Busch, who called to “inquire when they would see the report.”

He testified last month that the Flint Water Treatment plant was not ready when it opened in April 2014 and he tried to warn two state environmental employees after he was rebuffed by city officials.

Glasgow pleaded guilty in May to a reduced charge of willful neglect of duty, a one-year misdemeanor. Sentencing for Glasgow was set aside as long as he cooperates with Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office.

Shekter Smith and Busch each had a charge of involuntary manslaughter added in June 2017. Schuette accused them and four others of failing to alert the public about a 2014-15 outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area that killed 12 people and sickened 79 others.

In the afternoon, Glasgow testified about conversations he had with Prysby and Busch in July 2015 about water sampling he had done at the home of Lee-Anne Walters and a title company business. Walters, who had called U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials to complain of high levels of lead in her water, was an “original rusty water complaint,” he said.

Walters’ home, he said, tested for 104 parts of lead per billion, far exceeding the federal limit of 15 parts per billion. Prysby and Busch wanted to remove Walters from the list because she had a filtration system, Glasgow said, as well as the business because it wasn’t a residence. He had never been asked by the two officials to remove samples before then, saying, “No, this was my first experience.”

“I was surprised just with all the, I guess, publicity around the water switch and the issues we were having,” Glasgow told 67th District Court Judge Jennifer Manley, who is overseeing the case and will decide whether to bind it over for trial. “And I knew with removing a couple of numbers that were high above the action level, it would affect our 90 percentile calculation. So there was some concern.”

The two DEQ officials, Glasgow admitted, did not instruct him to tell the Walters’ family, which has children, to go to the hospital.

Then he said he warned Walters and her family about drinking the water. “I told her I wouldn't let my children drink the water,” he testified.

Flood ended his questioning, and Glasgow’s cross examination by Lyon’s defense attorneys will continue next month.


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