Exposing deteriorating water infrastructure in America

Creative Matters, which brings together artists, thinkers, builders and doers who challenge conventional thinking about creativity, science, and artistic expression grows out of the Arts Advancement Committee, convened by provost Barry Butler, and the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Chaden Djalali. Chaired by Alan MacVey, our charge was to synthesize energies, forge connections across disciplines, and spark new ideas in conjunction with the rebuilding of our arts campus.
This series has been one of the most visible of the committees, many accomplishments, and has catalyzed a campus wide conversation about the centrality of creativity and discovery in all that we do. I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to thank my colleagues Chris Merrill, Ann Ricketts and Leslie Weatherhead, who have propelled the series with their imagination and hard work. Those of you who have attended other lectures in this series know that Chris has often invoked a series of essays and reflections entitled, The Creative Process: Reflections on Invention
in the Arts and Sciences. As a window into the mysterious means by which new discoveries are made in the arts, humanities, and sciences.
In the introduction, the poet Brewster Ghiselin argues that quote, “Invention in the arts and in thought “is a part of the invention of life.” This series has given us the opportunity to explore the act of creation as a universal human impulse and an ineffable link to one another. This year we have enjoyed the fresh improvisatory brilliance of the Q Brothers and their exploration with our own Miriam Gilbert, into the transformation of Shakespeare into rap, and Basil Twist’s remarkable ability to conjure up expressive beauty from cloth and wood, and make age old tradition of puppetry connect to modern audiences. Leslie Jamison inspired us to think in new ways about the complexity of empathy, and we heard from DJ Spooky about his dynamic work at the intersection of popular culture and data sonification.
We equally anticipate how this evening’s lecture will expand our thinking about the role of creative energy and
intellectual curiosity in the quest to solve a major public health issue. To introduce this evening’s speaker, I am pleased to welcome to the podium, Craig Just. Assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and coordinator of the College of Engineering’s Sustainability Program. On behalf of the Arts Advancement
Committee and the OVPR I would like to say thank you to Associate Dean Keri Hornbuckle and to Craig for making possible this collaboration with the Richard L. Valentine Distinguished Lecture Series, and the Department of Civil
and Environmental Engineering. Craig? (applauding) – Thank you, thank you so much and yes, on the behalf of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
let me welcome you here, and on behalf of a few other folks. IIHR Hydroscience & Engineering, the Water Sustainability Initiative, the Environmental Health
Sciences Research Center, the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination, the Public Policy Center and the Center for Global and Regional
Environmental Research. I think I got all my acronyms correct. I see nods of the people who are the directors of those
places so I think I did okay. It’s my pleasure to, introduce Rich Valentine to you, and when we first did
this some folks wrote us, and thought Rich maybe
had perhaps passed away. Because we did not say it’s
the honorary Valentine Lecture, and some people assumed
it was the memorial one, and I can tell you right now Rich is, Rich, wave your hand a little bit Rich. Yeah, there he is. Rich is back there, Rich. (applauding) (laughing) And for those of you, for those of you who know Rich Valentine to hear him running up
and down the hallways essentially screaming, “I’m not dead!” That’s why I had to bring
up that story for sure. You can read on your cards
all of Rich’s accomplishments and all the things that have led to have a distinguished
lectureship named after him, but one of the most important things I think on the card that you’ll read is Rich’s commitment to a spree decor, and in that spirit we also want to extend that spree decor to
our speaker Marc Edwards in hopefully a special way, and so I have a gift for you here. You don’t have to open it,
I’ll show everyone what’s in it but it’s here for you to have later. Inside the box though, one of the first things we have here is a wonderful Hawkeye State that you can put on your desk and on the back it says Marc Edwards 2016 Richard L. Valentine
Distinguished Lecturer, so you’ll have that for sure, but more importantly there’s
something related to this. It’s the sacred geode. So what Rich Valentine does
is he gives the sacred geode to the most junior professor in environmental engineering and science. This year the holder is Greg
LeFevre in our department. The geode represents
among many other things, the promise and the hope in the
submitted research proposal. – [Marc] Whoa. – The promise and the hope in the submitted research proposal, right? Because this particular
geode is not opened. You don’t know what it looks like inside, you don’t know if it’s beautiful or just kind of ugly inside, there’s no way to know until later, and so this has been in Greg’s hands, he submitted a proposal to the
National Science Foundation about a week ago, the power of the geode has kept him strong and
it’s kept many of us strong, so I brought the geode here
to impart that energy to you for your talk.
– Wow. – Tonight, and also in
your travels going forward. – [Marc] I need that. – Also as a representation or
as in thanks from us to you. Inside the box is your own beautiful Iowa geode.
– [Marc] Oh my God. – From near Keokuk Iowa,
and so you can take that home as a gift from us to you. So moving on, here’s Marc. An amazing guy. I’ve got to spend some
time with him surely today, I went out and gave a talk at
Virginia Tech a few years ago and Marc was there, anyway, a long history between Marc and our program for sure. If you haven’t been paying attention he was just named to Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people. He was a MacArthur Fellow in 2008. His students, 24 of them have won national recognized awards since 1992, and one of his recent national
Science Foundation grants is titled, Learning to Listen: Bridging the Gap Between Scientists, Engineers and Society, and
that’s one of the kind of aspects that I hope Marc will
bring to us all here today. In my own experiences on this campus via the Obermann Graduate Institute, which tries to train graduate
students around campus to be more like Marc,
cross that invisible line into the realm of publicly
engaged scholarship. I was able to co-direct that, and it was a very powerful experience, and I was recently asked about
the Flint Michigan issues in the context of the
Obermann Graduate Institute, asked what I thought about it, and I said, “Well, it
makes me sad and proud.” And the reason why it
makes me sad is because we teach the chemistry required to protect the people of Flint
Michigan at the junior level in our program and then do more
advanced studies thereafter. So that made me sad that
just very basic things were not implemented in this case. The reason it made me proud is because an environmental engineering
professor, one of us, stepped up, crossed the invisible line, and made a difference for the
protection of public health in a way that no one else would. And so sad and proud, but
mostly proud for this evening because Marc is here to
tell us all about his story, so let’s please welcome him. (applauding) – Well just, truly thanks for
that just amazing introduction and it’s an honor to be
here at Iowa which has been my favorite environmental
engineering program in the country bar none
for along time in fact, when I finally got the
opportunity to go to Virginia Tech it was with the idea that we could try to grow a program kind of to emulate what you guys have gotten here at Iowa. It’s also just an amazing
privilege to be here and to be giving the
Rich Valentine Lecture, because Rich is… (“We’re not gonna take it”) The heck? ♫ We’re not gonna take it ♫ No we ain’t gonna take it – [Marc] Oh my God what the heck? ♫ We’re not gonna take it ♫ Anymore (laughing) – [Marc] Oh my gosh. Rich! I gotta give an, I gotta do a nomination
speech or something now? This is interesting ’cause I had this amazing graduate student
who came from Purdue, his name’s William Rhoads. And he had just visited Iowa
and this really smart guy with a 4.0 comes into my office and I say, “How’s your trips
going around the country?” And he looked at me with this
like really crazed expression and he goes, “You know I’ve been waiting “to talk to someone about this. “Because I just went to Iowa, “and I went into the office of
this guy named Rich Valentine “and Rich wanted to sing this song, “We’re Not Gonna Take It Anymore, “and that was the whole interview.” So I asked William last night I go, “Did you ever figure out what
was the deal with that song?” And he goes, “I have no idea. “This is the only time I’d
met this guy before or since, “I can’t really comment on it. “Was it a test to see if I was cool? “To see if I would turn the
conversation to research, “or should I have banged on the desk too? “I don’t know.” (laughing) So this is the kind of guy
that we’re dealing with and is definite presidential material if you got a write in
vote that you wanna spend. And I think more than
anything Rich Valentine epitomizes to me something
my dad used to say which is that, “Son, you
were born an original. “Do not die a copy.” And for that reason I think Rich is just an amazing example to all of us. To introduce this topic, the
Flint Michigan water crisis, was this a miracle or disaster? I wanna go back in time to my own kind of journey as a professor. I was 40 years old, I was very naive, I didn’t know anything about
scientific misconduct or sort of even the history
of science if you will, and I got involved in this
issue of lead in drinking water. Now this subject is
truly fascinating because lead in water is actually the first time that humans discovered that
an environmental contaminate could really mess us up. Specifically back in the Roman times. 312 B.C. the Greek plumber
Vitruvius recognized it. If you wanted to have water that did not make your mind give way, which is one of the effects
of lead, it’s a neurotoxin, it reduces your IQ and some people think that lead poisoning contributed to the decline of the Roman empire. You should not put it through lead pipes, and especially not allow it
to sit around and be stagnant. So unfortunately the world, you
know, it entered a dark age, and a lot of human wisdom was lost and if you go forward 2,000 years, it was possible to see
advertisements like this in National Geographic magazine, 1923. Extolling the virtues of
using just pure lead pipes to connect your house to the
water main through the city and in fact, this
advertisement actually brags that if you do wanna make your connection from your house to the water main, you have to use lead pipe, it’s the law. So here you have the beginnings of what’s a serious problem because governments, they do a lot of things
really pretty well, but one thing you’re gonna
learn that they don’t do well is fix problems that they created. And the lead pipes are
there because of a bad law. Now the human history
with these lead pipes, the modern history, is a horror story. There’s actually a book written by a historian Werner Troesken, that talks about the great lead water pipe disaster in the United States. When these pipes were installed in the northeastern part of the US, literally rates of miscarriages, fetal deaths, sky rocketed. Adults died from drinking
too much lead in their water. Lead was actually the first known way to control family size. Women would take lead abortion pills, and it worked. So in this book, Werner lays out this horrible history that he thinks it’s one of the worst environmental disasters that
we’ve ever experienced in 150 years of government induced death, deceit, and denial. And it’s not just limited by
the way to the United States, if there’s any consolation in that, France and Britain where these
lead pipes were installed they had equal problems. So my own experience
with this started out, 40 years old, I was hired by the EPA to work on our lead
problem in Washington DC. And this event became known in the press as the Washington DC Lead Crisis. This was a time period
from the year 2000 to 2004, when the lead in our
nation’s capital water was unprecedented modern levels. It was over 100 parts per billion in 10s of thousands of
Washington DC homes. Literal 20% of the houses
that had lead pipes were getting daily, in
a single glass of water, more lead that’s in an abortion pill from the turn of the century. And this is now recognized
as one of the world’s public health disaster strategies and if you don’t trust the
US Congress as a source it’s in Wikipedia so you can look that up. But with the benefit of my students and my work as a volunteer we now believe that this time period
was associated with about 2,000 children not being born, 200 late term fetal deaths, which is greater than 20 weeks pregnancy, and literally thousands of
children in Washington DC, about five to 10,000 having
their blood lead elevated above CDC’s current level of concern five micrograms per deciliter. What makes this story so interesting, aside from the fact it was a phenomenon when it came out in 2004, it was one of the biggest
news stories of the year. Lead was high in the US Congress. President Bush got two questions at his press conference in 2004, was he drinking too much lead
in the White House water? And it was also fascinating
from the perspective that it was a completely
government owned tragedy, because in Washington DC
the Army produces the water. DC is not a state, so EPA
is the primacy agency, and it was also EPA’s regulation, their disinfection byproducts regulation where they were trying
to do something good causing a shift from
chlorine to chloramine that caused the lead to fall off the pipe. We didn’t know that
chlorine had been keeping lead on the pipe for all those years, and in the end it turned out EPA and the Army and the local utility and
pretty much everyone knew that lead in water was high in DC except the people drinking it. For three years. And so what this is an example of is misconduct by government
scientists and engineers, the environmental policemen
who we pay to protect us became environmental criminals
and caused this massive toxicological unprecedented exposure, and the other thing that
makes this so interesting is there’s absolutely
no debate about the fact that lead exposure’s horrible. It’s official US government policy that there is no safe
level of lead exposure. There’s no debate, lead is a bad thing. So I was involved in this to solve this problem with the EPA, it’s a long story, we
had some disagreements and I was soon not working
with the EPA on this very soon and it got into the Washington Post, and at one point there were six
Congressional investigations going on into this. People were out of their minds with anger, they wanted people to be held accountable for this unprecedented exposure. And unfortunately as
bad as this tragedy was, of course no one knew about
the harm that was done, what was about to occur
was even much, much worse. So here’s how it rolled out. On April Fool’s Day of 2004 the US Centers for Disease
Control came to town and they wrote a falsified
scientific report. They claimed that they
looked at the blood lead of the worst case residence in DC, and they drew a conclusion,
that I kid you not, no one was hurt. Not a single man woman or child had any evidence of having
their blood lead elevated above the CDC level of concern from this unprecedented exposure. It’s incredible. Contrary to 2,000 years
of human experience going back to the Roman times if you drink high lead in your water, you get lead poisoning. Dozens of peer reviewed papers. This miracle happened in Washington DC. Now we now know as the result of a Congressional investigation that occurred eight years after this falsified report was
written, that it was falsified. On the day that this article came out, one of the leaders of the US
Centers for Disease Control wrote the first author, Mary Jean Brown, say how’s your article doing, here’s what she wrote in an email. “Today’s the first day in over a month “there wasn’t a story on lead in water “in the Washington Post and
I haven’t been interviewed “by one news outlet. “I guess that means it worked.” How’d it work? She managed to cover up
evidence of the harm. She made sure that we would learn nothing from this horrible tragedy. That the perpetrators of this crime would not be held accountable. So if that’s not bad enough, let’s look at what happened
in the immediate aftermath of this falsified CDC report. Three days later, there were articles in
the Washington Times where the agency started
to blame the public. The agencies were the victims here. How is that possible? Well the Washington Times, they
wrote an article that said, “You know what we’ve learned from this, “it’s the public gets
hysterical over nothing. “This lead in water,
it was no harm no foul. “No one at EPA should
be held accountable.” And a pediatrician wrote
in to the Washington Post and said, “You know what we’ve learned “from this amazing living experience, “experiment that we just went through? “Is that kids can drink any
amount of lead in water, “and they just pee it out. “It doesn’t hurt them.” So then another year goes by, and I later found this out by
Freedom of Information Act, and you can not make this shit up people, (laughing) the agency started to give themselves awards for what they did, okay? So here’s an example of an email, 2005, they just escaped going to jail. They give themselves the gold medal highest honor award for major significance of distinguished service and
environmental improvement and public service. The perpetrators of this
crime, Region III EPA, gave themselves EPA’s highest honor. Okay and that’s not bad enough? The problem is that the
lie from this CDC papers started to spread all around the country, and people started to downplay the dangers of lead in drinking water. So here’s just one example
of dozens that I found. Seattle in late 2004, they found hazardous waste levels of lead in a kindergarten classroom. Parents, you’d think
they’re concerned right? Hazardous waste levels of lead
in my kindergarten classroom. A pediatrician writes in and says you know because CDC just did this amazing study in Washington DC, and they tested the blood
lead of all these people that were drinking high
lead in their water. No one had their blood lead elevated, why should we be worried
about this in Seattle? So this study was being
cited all around the world as we should no longer be concerned about lead in drinking water. And I sat in meetings
where water utilities were openly talking about cheating on the lead and copper rule because obviously it’s just a BS law. It’s got such a huge safety factor in it even when it was exceeded by
two orders of magnitude in DC, no one got hurt. So that was the myth, and so I worked for six
years 35 hours a week to try to figure out what
went wrong with this study. It was a horrible, horrible experience, but CDC was completely uncooperative, they would not share their data with me, they attacked me in the press, but eventually I was able to work with a local medical hospital, and got their blood lead data. The CDC would not cooperate and
it took me all of 10 minutes to figure out what we’d known 2,000 years, which is that if kids drink a lot of lead in their drinking water,
they get lead poison. So this came out in 2009 in Environmental
Science and Technology, and Jerry Schnoors here,
he was the editor of that and he helped me on that journey
to get that paper published and it was not easy, but when that paper came out, folks in Washington DC went crazy again, because this is six years
after this exposure occurred, and they just realized
that they had been lied to. Six years. So Congress started investigating this, there was a bipartisan investigation to the conduct of the US CDC, and this report came out on May 20th 2010 talking about this public health tragedy and how CDC falsified their report and their approach was just completely scientifically indefensible what they did. Okay. So, we’re human, we screw things up, that’s what we do, there should be a Geico commercial, right? (laughing) But you know we have
the capability you hope to learn from our mistakes, right? So CDC covered this up, with a falsified report, surely they’re going to
accept responsibility, say they’re sorry and take some action to make sure it’s not gonna happen again. You’d be wrong. ‘Cause that’s not the
nature of our federal science agencies today. Here’s what happened, on the day that this Congressional investigation came out, CDC wrote another falsified report that claimed their conclusion in 2004 was the opposite of what they wrote. Okay that didn’t go over well. So then a member of the CDC
wrote to the Washington Post and said, “You know, “at these levels of lead exposure “that were quantified and CDC confirmed “that kids got lead poisoned, “the effects are subtle
and you as a parent “wouldn’t really notice the loss “of three to five IQ
points that was typical.” This is the first time in CDC’s history that they’ve ever downplayed the effects of lead poisoning on children. So you can imagine that
didn’t go over well. So here’s the next try, Tom Sinks, CDC, interviewed
in the Washington Post. “Looking backwards six
years it’s clear this report “could’ve been written
a little bit better.” And when that didn’t go over, the current head of CDC, Tom Frieden, at the conclusion of his investigation decided what CDC had done wrong, was that, “In it’s urgency
to assess the situation, “we communicated
scientific results poorly.” So that’s what they’re guilty of. They don’t know how to write a paper. So no apology from CDC. They refused to investigate or do anything about the scientific misconduct because no one ever thought
scientists and engineers would behave this way with
no profit motive whatsoever, and we have no check and
balance on their power. So at the end of the day let’s
add up the lesson learned. From Washington DC, the tragedy. First off in terms of
government accountability, the day after our paper came out in ESNT a class action lawsuit was filed. That was thrown out in 2013 because, this is why lying’s so effective, good luck proving so long after the fact whose kid got lead
poisoned from what source. Cases of five children
out of the thousands who were lead poisoned,
they fought their way to try to get their day in court, it was just settled three weeks ago. Five kids finally got a settlement out of over 5,000 who were lead poisoned. These kids are out of high school now. They were exposed when they
were two to three years old. So the DC tragedy, 30 times worse than what
happened in Flint Michigan. Those families did not get an apology, they did not get a penny to help them with their health needs or
special education needs. And to top it all off none of the responsible government officials were ever fired or
demoted for what they did and they kept their gold medals. And then if that is not bad enough, when I studied the history of this, I found out that there were five honest, ethical, heroic engineers and
scientists who did their job, who tried to alert the
public to this problem or expose some of the wrongdoing. They were all fired. These five people, they laid
down their professional lives to do the right thing, they were fired. Two of them later won,
whistleblower lawsuits, they got anywhere from
200 to $400,000 dollars. A token to pay for having
your career destroyed for doing the right thing and by the way, no one will hire them again
because that’s how we treat good honest heroic
whistleblowers in this country. So, you know I submit to you, people as me how on Earth
could this tragedy unfold in Flint Michigan and you’re gonna see some of the horrifying things, and I will argue to you that look, if this is how you run your
government science agencies, where you promote unethical weak cowards to the highest ranks of the agency and you destroy good,
honest, ethical actors, what would you expect? What would you expect? You’re running the
opposite of a meritocracy. So we saw this unfolding. The water utilities were cheating, the EPA was allowing this to go on, and it seemed like the lesson
learned from Washington DC was that we can get away with anything. And eventually I had to quit the American Water Works Association, it’s a group I’d belonged to for 25 years, I devoted my whole career to
it and these folks are amazing, they do wonderful things 99% of the time, but when it comes to lead
in water they’re just crazy. Crazy unethical. So I quit, and it turned out that another guy that I was gonna soon cross trails with, Mister Miguel Del Toral at EPA. He’s the foremost authority on the lead and copper on the country, March 3rd 2014 I later
found out that he quit within a month of me for
the exact same reason. That the American Water Works Association, the water utilities were cheating so much they were endangering the public health. So remember this date, this
is March 2014, we both quit, and it was that month that
Flint switched its water supply. Which brings us to, Flint Michigan. And what you have here is all the makings, the perfect recipe, for a disaster. So how did it start? Well like most engineering
and science disasters, it started out innocently enough. Right? You were trying to do something good. Here’s what they did, they
switched their water supply for two years to the Flint River. The idea was they could use this source that they’d been using two weeks a year, just use it for two years while a new pipeline was being built, and then they would have
the new pipeline water. Here’s the famous ribbon cutting ceremony where they cut the ribbon, toasted, and said here’s to Flint,
this is a historic day for us. Which proved to be true, not quite for the reasons they thought. Because, an engineer at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
forgot to follow federal law. They forgot to add orthophosphate
corrosion inhibitor to the water supply. What is a corrosion inhibitor do? It’s the best investment
a water company can make. For every dollar you spend
on corrosion inhibitor, it reduces the damage to your pipelines by about 10 to $15 dollars. It protects your steel
pipes from corrosive water, it keeps lead on the pipe
and out of the water, and it also keeps the
disinfectant in the water high so it remains microbiologically pure. Go figure, that’s why we have a law, it’s not a discretionary item. And it wasn’t long, two
weeks is all it took before Flint residents
started to talk to each other, and they realized something
was going horribly wrong. They would say hey, I took a shower, I think my hair’s falling out. Are your kids getting rashes? My kids are getting rashes. Are you getting breathing difficulties? What’s going on with the water here? And so these folks in Flint Michigan, this was on social media within a few weeks after the switch, talking about the fact, why is it that we can’t
bathe in tap water? I’ve gotta buy bottled
water to take a bath. Now folks from outside watching this go, you know these people in
Flint, they’re kind of crazy. I mean it’s a very, very poor city. Maybe if they weren’t
wasting all their money on bottled water to take
baths they’d have more money. So no one was, paying attention. So finally, a lot more folks started to complain, and this is an example. Miss LeAnne Walters. So LeAnne Walters is an American hero and treasure. Let me tell you a little
bit about this woman. LeAnne had a living
experiment in front of her. Twin boys. One of the boys growth was
stunted, both physically, and socially, and she’s trying to figure out why. Why is one of my twins lagging? LeAnne Walters figured out that the child whose growth
was stunted was lead poisoned. She figured out that the
source was lead in water. LeAnne did her homework and figured out that the state of Michigan
lied to the US EPA in writing, and said that they were
using corrosion control when they were not. LeAnne Walters figured
all this out on her own. So if you take nothing
away other than this from this seminar today, it
is that the most powerful scientific force in the universe is a mother looking out for
the health of their children. And if you mess with that, if
you mess with LeAnne Walters she is gonna come and
she’s gonna screw you up. No matter who you are
or what agency you are, she’s gonna find a way
to make that happen. So do not mess, with that force. So around this time LeAnne, who has figured out how
to protect her own twins, her family was protected. She fought on to protect
other people’s children, because she didn’t
understand why is my house, have a lead problem, the state’s telling me
that I’m the only one. So she has fought for more than a year, 50 hours a week without pay, not only to protect children in Flint, but all around the United States for more than a year and a half, and she’s refused to take
any money for doing so. So LeAnne found this amazing guy at EPA. You heard about him
before, Miguel Del Toral. Okay again, foremost expert
on the leaded copper rule in the United States. Miguel heard this story and
he could not believe it. The state lied to them in writing about having corrosion
control when they didn’t. He was very, very angry. So the next day he wrote this email to his colleagues at EPA. And what he argued was that the EPA should exert emergency powers, because the city of
Flint was in an imminent and substantial endangerment, and we have to go in
and enforce federal law to protect the population. This is April 2015. Okay now one of the problems here, if you’re a scientist
working in these agencies, is that you are not
allowed to do your job. In fact the sad reality is the thing that can best get you fired at the US EPA, is to do your job. I’ve seen example after
example of where that occurred. Now it was actually proven in a Congressional hearing in 2015, at EPA you can watch porn
all day on your computer and not get fired, but if you do your job you run
the risk of getting the ax. So Miguel, he knew this. And he’s trying to figure out how can I get EPA to do their job? Well Miguel’s got a problem, his boss. Miss Susan Hedman. In the same month that he
wrote this memo, April 2015, Susan Hedman who was the
head of Region Five EPA was the subject of a
Congressional hearing, and it wasn’t a good hearing. Here’s what she was accused of. There was a sexual predator
on the loose at Region Five who sexually harassed more
than a dozen interns in a row, and the employees at Region Five who tried to stop this in human relations, were retaliated against by Susan Hedman. Three of them went on the record, to say that they were not
allowed to do their job and there’s this arrogance of
leadership at their region, where the leaders are untouchable, and their jobs are in jeopardy. So Miguel is in this climate. What are you gonna do? He’s two or three years from retirement, he decides he’s gonna risk his job, and I’m plotting with Miguel. We’re plotting how can we get
EPA to do their job, right? So Miguel decides he’s gonna write a memo, which he did in June of 2015, where he laid out exactly what was happening in Flint Michigan. That an entire city was in danger, federal law was not being followed, and that there’s no corrosion
control in the city. So this came out, a memo
was given to LeAnne, myself, it was given to the press,
it was a big news story. We had it setup for EPA
to be the hero, right? All someone had to do
was pick up the phone and say install corrosion control. Follow the law. That was it, it would’ve
been the end of the story, and instead Miguel’s boss comes in and snatches defeat from
the jaws of victory. What does she do? She retaliates against
Miguel for writing the memo. She stands by silently
as the state of Michigan says Miguel Del Toral is a rogue employee who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and he does not speak for the US EPA. Susan Hedman head of
Region Five EPA apologizes that this memo was ever written. So Miguel’s out. All our efforts to have EPA do their job, total failure. So at this point Miguel’s pretty upset, so the next day he wrote
this email to his colleagues, “You know I’m really, really
tired of the bad actors “being defended, bad
actions being ignored, “and the people trying
to do the right thing “being subject to intense scrutiny “as if we’re the ones
doing something wrong.” And he ends it, “I truly,
truly hate working here. “EPA is a cesspool.” (laughing) So Miguel’s out. So a new EPA employee, someone who feels more
comfortable in this culture, where federal law is not being followed, Jennifer Crooks comes on the scene. Here’s an email from
her that gives an idea of how they were handling this. She writes to Michigan Department
of Environmental Quality who lied to EPA in writing
about having corrosion control, “Yep, another complaint about
out favorite water supply.” Smiley face. “Let me tell you this Flint
situation is a very nasty issue. “I’ve had people call
me four letter words, “yell at me and call me a crook. “I’m developing a thick skin.” And so this went on and on and on where eight months after EPA knew federal law was being broken, eight months after Miguel’s first memo outlining the dangers to Flint children, here’s EPA still talking about this issue, where they’re writing each other, “I’m not so sure Flint is the community “we want to go out on a limb for.” So, here’s the situation, okay? People are now marching in the streets. We go to Flint, we videotaped people being
arrested at town meetings for complaining about their water supply. Kids are getting rashes, crap is coming out of the water, this is what the water looks like. It’s nearly a riot situation in the city, and these folks are
being told by the state that their water is safe to drink. And the mayor of Flint, he
reached out to Susan Hedman, he goes, “You know, I’m
really getting worried “about this situation, we’re
on the verge of anarchy here. “What about this memo? “Was there anything to this memo?” Again she apologized, said that she would vette the memo, get back to him if there’s
anything to be worried about. Happy 4th of July, is how she ended it. So the mayor goes on TV and encourages everyone in Flint to drink the water like he does. So at some point these folks are so bad, you gotta give credit where credit’s due, they’re actually good. Here’s what I mean

by that, okay? It really takes some nerve. Flint Michigan is the second poorest city in the United States. They are paying not only the
highest water rates in the US, but in the world. Three times the rate for
water that’s paid in Denmark, because there’s so few
people left in the city to pay for the water bills. And that water we now
know was not suitable because of high levels
of lead and legionellae for anything but flushing toilets. And on top of it it was just incredible to see the callous disregard, arrogance, with which the state and
EPA were treating people in Flint Michigan. Let me just give you one example. August 4th, 2015. LeAnne was meeting with the state. The Michigan Department
of Environmental Quality, when she asked about the danger to other kids in Flint Michigan
from lead in the water, they laughed at her. They laughed at LeAnne Walters. And they then bragged to the
Flint Residents who were there, no one will help you. You won’t hear from
Miguel Del Toral again, he’s been handled. So they called me up, and they were really,
really upset at this point, as was I when I heard about this. Yeah I got really mad, and I don’t remember much
about the next few hours. ♫ We’re not gonna take it ♫ No we ain’t gon– – William Rhoads, we all sat down, and we said what are we gonna do here? And it was that seed you planted Rich. So we decided we had to do something to help the residents in Flint, and we really put it all on the line. This is something you rarely
if ever do as a professor, you’re breaking all the
rules of the social contract. First off this was all self-funded, it’s the only way you can
possibly do something like this is to save up as I had because
I knew this day would come. I knew that there was gonna be another Washington DC somewhere, sometime. It just happened to
come to Flint Michigan. And we essentially declared war on our own unethical
government science agencies, the environmental policemen
we pay to protect us who became environmental criminals, to protect Flint’s children. And I didn’t wanna do it, but it was either that or stand by and watch an entire city’s
infrastructure be destroyed and kids be lead poisoned
and perhaps we predicted people even getting sick and dying from legionellae in their water. So we made a decision
to go all in for Flint. And I told my students, and William was one of ’em I said, this is probably a suicide mission and at the end of this I
could very well lose my job, but what a way to go for you guys. So anyway, so how did this roll out? We had multi phase battle plan. So the first step was to
engage with Flint residents and do the job that these
agencies refused to do. Sample their water to see if
it had too much lead in it. We sent 300 lead kits
to the city of Flint, the residents killed themselves, they did an amazing job
of doing the sampling, we got 90% of those kits returned. So for anyone who’s ever
done anything like this, which is what I do for a living, I used to do this sort of
work for water utilities, even if employees are paid
to do this in order to do it I’m lucky to get 2/3 of the kits back. Flint residents as volunteers
returned 90% of those kits at a time that the state was saying Flint residents won’t cooperate to test the safety of their water. We also knew that we
had to engage the media, because we were trying essentially to overthrow a branch of government, and everything is against you, when you’re doing this. And of course the investigative reporter is a vanishing breed
so we had to make this simple enough for anyone to understand, and when we went up there we
started experiments like this where we took Flint river water
without corrosion control, and compared it to the old
water which was from Detroit that did have corrosion control, and in this picture we exposed steel samples to that water, and as you’d expect, go figure, when you expose steel to corrosive water with no corrosion control
you get all this rust in it because it’s destroying the metal. And the Detroit water had no problem. So, very simple, okay? You were here, now you’re here, LeAnne Walters, she’s not crazy. Flint residents are not crazy. We then did other experiments which looked at the
issue of lead in water, and these are samples of copper
coupons with solder on them, and again we exposed it to the Flint water and the Detroit water, and you see this white
stuff in the water here? That’s lead. At hazardous waste level. The Flint water was 30
times more corrosive to lead than the old Detroit water. Now in the meantime the
state, they were fighting us, and they were saying there’s no difference in corrosivity between the two waters. Trust us. It was around this time that GM who was using the water for Flint, they noticed it was eating the car parts up on the assembly line, and they had to switch to Detroit water. And the state was bragging
that they’d handled reporters to throw them off the idea
that if it wasn’t suitable for GM’s parts on their assembly line, that it had any kind of
problem with corrosivity in the Flint system or had anything
to do with health effects. So we approached the
state and we said this is, this is not reasonable okay? You’re scientists, you’re engineers, you should’ve done this experiment before you made the switch, but one of the things about
science and engineering is it’s reproducible, right? We can find the truth if we want to. So we sent them these kits, and said, just repeat the experiment like we did, it’s so simple, it’s five days. They refused to repeat the experiment. So at that point we started to get nasty, I recruited a 4th grade classroom, and they were able to
repeat the experiment and found the exact same thing we did, and they got on the local television and the state looked
completely ridiculous. And I really hate to go there folks. You know you think scientists
and engineers at CDC, at EPA, at a Michigan Department
of Environmental Quality, you can reason with
these people that facts make a difference. You would be wrong. And if you’re not dealing
with reasonable people, you have to use any means at your disposal and unfortunately the only weapon you have in your arsenal is ridicule. That’s the only weapon you have, to protect the truth and children. So at that point we got even nastier, we recruited Brownie Scout scientists, and they were doing an experiment, this is Doctor Mona’s troop here, and we actually had them write letters to the governor of the
state after this was over and this was picked up on
national media within 24 hours, and we also got together all these letters that these brown Troop scientists wrote and I sent them to EPA
headquarters in Washington DC, and I said isn’t it amazing
these little school girls get this and you so
called paid professionals in DC do not. So we’re rolling out our
battle plan on all fronts. At this time we later learned from a Freedom of Information Act request the state of Michigan was getting worried. In this email, I’m kinda proud of this, this is September 2015. “If we’re gonna take
action it needs to be soon “before the Virginia Tech
folks scandalize us all.” “In DC it took ’em six years
to expose what happened, “we’re only 10 days into this right now, “and it’s really not looking good.” But it was too late for them, because we were prepared for this and I don’t think in a million years they thought anyone would do
what we did in Flint Michigan. The next thing we did is we went up and we stood with Flint
residents on the lawn and had a press conference. And I’ll never forget the moment where, I was there with a
reporter and I pulled out the simple things that even
a reporter could understand to explain what’s going on, and I said, “This is one of the most “epically bad decisions in history.” And this reporter’s jaw just dropped. He goes, “Okay, “You’re a tenured
professor at Virginia Tech, “you realize you’re
putting your whole career “on the line here.” And I said, “Yes,” and he
goes, “This is on the record, “right, right?” And I go, “Yes.” So it’s front page, September 15th, we then started working with a local medical doctor
who had the blood lead records in Flint and she’s amazing,
her name’s Doctor Mona, and we worked around the clock and within just eight days we figured out that children in the neighborhoods where we found the highest lead in water, the incidence of lead
poisoning had tripled in just those two months of 2015. So at that point, the battle was essentially over. So we had formed a critical
mass of moral courage between the local medical community, the residents, ACLU Michigan, all of these amazing outside actors, stood up, and fought for Flint’s kids, and against this injustice, and six weeks after we got involved, it was front page in the New York Times, and then the impossible happened which was they said they could never again switch back to Detroit water, believe me, when they found out kids were getting lead poisoned they figured out a way
to make that happen. So they switched back to Detroit water, and it wasn’t long before much of America and indeed the world realized that what happened in Flint Michigan was what we had hypothesized
back in August 2015. It was an environmental crime, committed by our government, against one of our most
vulnerable populations. And if you are judged as a society by how you treat your most vulnerable, we don’t look very good folks. We do not look very good. So President Obama got involved, and he declared a federal emergency. The Flint issue became
kind of a cause dujour to celebrities, give water
to help Flint Michigan. In fact one of the greatest
public health threats in Flint right now is the residents are hoarding so much water ’cause they’re so afraid
of the tap water now, that literally some of the
houses are about to collapse. FEMA resources were mobilized and the kids were tested for
elevated lead in their blood, and unfortunately Flint’s infrastructure, which wasn’t in good
condition to start with, it was damaged by the
lack of corrosion control, and this is what a
daily commute looks like in Flint Michigan today. The pipes were destroyed. Flint has 100 times the main
breaks of a normal US city, and there is no way on
Earth Flint residents can afford to ever fix
their infrastructure, it’s just beyond their economic means. And if that’s not bad
enough our hypothesis that the lack of corrosion control would cause a legionellae outbreak came true. The way this works is that when you have iron corrosion occurring, the iron corrosion eats
up the free chlorine, which is a disinfectant, if there’s no disinfectant
legionnaire’s bacteria can grow, you breath it in your shower, and Flint had one of the
worst legionellae outbreaks in US history. We presented our data to the county in January of this year, 2016, that we found high
legionellae in the hospitals. They admitted at that point
they knew about this outbreak since 2014, and they did not want
to tell anyone about it, because it would quote,
“Inflame the situation.” CDC, the water born disease
legionellae experts, they’re the world’s best, they wanted to get involved in 2015, because this is already one
of the largest outbreaks we know of and it really needs a comprehensive investigation, they have the resources
to do that sort of thing. The state’s response was to tell the CDC, the outbreak is over, when it wasn’t. More people died that summer. It’s been along tough road for me. Starting out in Washington DC. I testified to Congress for
the 3rd time earlier this year. The 4th time earlier this year, and I wish I could tell
you that there was any hope that these agencies had learned
anything from this tragedy, but I can’t. Because the US EPA went
and testified under oath that quote, “We had nothing to do “with what happened in Flint Michigan.” They testified under oath that we didn’t know if we
could enforce federal law, and the state strong armed
us into staying away. No apology from EPA. No hope that any lesson
here has been learned. So at this point, like me, you’re probably asking yourself, what on Earth does it take
to get someone incompetent fired from a government job? Okay, you got neighborhoods
of lead poisoned children, a city’s vital infrastructure’s destroyed, you got 12 people dead
from one of the worst legionellae outbreaks in US history, and at that point something
interesting happened, it got on Comedy Central. – The saddest thing about this thing, is how little it would’ve
cost to prevent it all. – To fix it was about $100 dollars a day. All of this could’ve been avoided for such a small amount of money. – $100 dollars a day. Why didn’t you say something? I wanna call out to all my
people in Africa right now watching The Daily Show. (laughing) Because my friends, for
only $100 dollars a day, (laughing) we can save a village in America. And get these people drinking the water that they so badly need. For just the price of five
cups of coffee in New York. (laughing) – Okay so now you’ve really,
really crossed the line, because America looks ridiculous
in the eyes of the world, and that’s what it took. Within a week of that
Susan Hedman resigned. There have been eight people indicted, civil servants at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality today, and when you hear about more indictments and manslaughter charges, think about the legionellae
outbreak and the deaths. There is a huge silver lining to this, not only did they get caught,
and we got kids protected, as bad as this was it
could’ve been another DC if we didn’t intervene because those kids would’ve been drinking the
water another 10 months. New money for infrastructure’s
been freed up. Congress decided water
infrastructure’s important, and to date over $600 million dollars has been given to Flint
residents to help with relief. That’s $67,000 dollars per child in the city of Flint, compare that to Washington DC, zero. Some people ask me, what does it take to do something like this? Well, obviously world class stubbornness, like if there was a
gold medal for stubborn, I would win that, I guarantee you. It took also a lot of money. DC it cost my family about 1.2 million. Flint cost us $300,000 dollars. I did get the MacArthur
which was 400,000 after taxes and after the federal
emergency was declared earlier this year we said okay, kids are protected if
you wanna give us money through Go Fund Me you can do that. So we to date have gotten 290,000 from just people sending us checks. So it makes going to the mailbox kind of a fun experience right? All these checks for $10
dollars, 50, $100 dollars, one time I got a check
for $80,000 dollars. One day though I got a letter from Flint Michigan, with a one dollar bill in it. And that was priceless. Now you’d also think academics, they’d appreciate sort of what you did. You exposed an environmental crime. You would be wrong. Not only did the agencies get mad at me, and as you can tell I’m probably not gonna get much money
from EPA anytime soon, or CDC for that matter. There was an editorial written in Environmental Science and Technology, which talked about what we did in Flint, and it claimed that this
idea of speaking out against a corrupt or incompetent system seems to be the product of a culture where Hollywood’s dramatic sensibilities conspired to create a narrative about a noble individual
fighting injustice, and it argued that if academics become allies of a particular cause, no matter how just that cause is, we risk undermining the social contract and the underpinnings of our
financial support for research, and that because our funding
is too precious to lose, you should not do this because it exposes our community to retaliation. So I’m like, you gotta be kidding me. We exposed an environmental
crime in Flint Michigan, and got kids protected, and I was confused. Are you calling me out for
what we did in Flint Michigan? Because it sure sounds like that you’re just basically saying we’re gonna hang out in our ivory tower and no matter how just the cause, it’s not our job to help. So I turned to my amazing
colleague, Amy Pruden, and she’s just a true friend and those are so rare in this world, and I said, “What do you
think about this article?” And she was out of her
mind angry about it. So you know, if you make Amy angry this is very, very serious. So I reached out to this guy
who wrote this and I said, “What’s the deal? “Did we do the right thing or not?” And he responded,
“Indeed it does look like “you exposed criminal activity “and as a citizen I’m glad that
someone stepped in to help, “I’m not convinced it
should’ve been an academic.” So anyway, so I’ve learned
a lot about human nature, not all of it good,
over the last 13 years. I’ve learned about corruption
at science agencies, unethical behavior, and it’s made me think a lot
about our own profession, which is academia, and
we wrote some of this up in a article that came
out in late September where we talked about
the perverse incentives that we as faculty face and how it’s all about the money nowadays, and is that really a good thing? And I prepared myself for a
huge onslaught of nasty emails, which never came. I got so far 500 emails thanking me for writing this article, and this was actually downloaded 200,000 times in just eight days. So to say it struck a nerve I think’s a little bit of an understatement. So just to kind of wrap this up, I’ve had a great career as
an environmental engineer, when I was first pondering
getting into the field I had never had an engineering class, I was a premed student. And I asked this amazing
environmental engineer, his name is Abel Wolman, I said, “What is is
environmental engineers do?” And what Abel Wolman said in his blunt characteristic way was, “If it weren’t for people like me, “people like you would be dead.” (laughing) I’ve always held that
kind of deep in my heart, I mean that’s, you know
what we do as engineers and scientists is important. We don’t realize it but people
drink the water we produce, people somehow use our
research one way or another, and when folks ask me what
makes Marc Edwards tick, what makes you do what
you did in Washington DC and Flint Michigan. And I will say to you that it is shame. I am ashamed that it’s
because of people like me that those folks in Flint Michigan are dead and lead poisoned, and it makes me sick to
think that this happened in a profession I love
and that we academics cast a blind eye through our cynicism and willful blindness
while this sort of thing happens around us. I am ashamed. So this has been a crazy journey. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but I wouldn’t trade
it for anything either. I’ve met some amazing people,
these are three of ’em. LeAnne, Miguel, Doctor Mona, we had 20 plus people stand up that played an absolutely critical role in fighting for the kids in Flint Michigan and they did it, they gave
up their lives, their money, with no hope of ever
getting any compensation with the odds against us, and you know I wish I could just tell you it was just amazing getting up everyday with such a sense of purpose, and I wish each and every one of you could experience what that’s
like at one point in your life, and let me just also point out here that we have a renounced Catholic, a Socialist, a Communist and a Republican, and that never came up by the way. It was never a problem, because we were fighting for what’s important in this world, and I can tell you that
going out on a limb for Flint was one of the best things that I ever did and I will never regret
it to my dying day. And I’ll just remind
you of the great words of Albert Einstein who said so truly that, “The world will not be
destroyed by those that do evil, “but by all those who
stand around and watch them “without doing anything about it.” And so I hope you take that to heart, and with that I’ll open it for questions and thank all the people that
helped us in Flint Michigan. Really appreciate it, thank you. (applauding) Thank you. – [Craig] Yes, here here. Are there some questions? I’ll work the room with the microphone if you at least raise your hand
let me know where you’re at. I see one over here we’ll get started. And yes I do realize a
few of you have to leave, that is just fine, we
can work around that. – [Marc] Yes sir. – [Man] You sometimes use
the language of incompetence and at other times use the
language of corruption and crime. – [Marc] Right. – [Man] My guess is in the end you believe it was a matter of corruption and crime, and in some cases when
our large institutions engage in corruption
and crime of this sort, there’s a kind of financial incentive. One doesn’t see that with the EPA. What the fuck was their incentive? – Thank you. Thank you sir. (laughing and clapping) Okay I didn’t know, wow,
I usually am the one to– – [Craig] That’s one way to
kick it off, that’s one way. – It wasn’t even you Rich! That’s amazing! – [Craig] And it wasn’t
even Rich Valentine. – It wasn’t Rich. So first off you have this
perversion of human select, of natural selection where good people are forced to leave or get fired or get cynical or willfully blind, and these, willfully blind cynics
lead these agencies, and they are, it’s a problem of misplaced loyalty. The old idea, this would not
have happened 30 years ago, I’m convinced of that, and the reason is, 30 years ago people at least pretended that they were
public servants first, and unfortunately that is not how our federal agencies are operating now. What they reward is first and foremost loyalty to the agency. And if you want to be loyal to the public you’re risking your job
and you are endanger, your viewing, being endangering the agency. So it’s a slippery slope, from when you have misplaced
loyalties at first, that’s how it starts, and
you promote bad people, fire good people. You then get cynicism
and willful blindness, and at the end of all that you end up with complete arrogance
and almost frankly evil, and I don’t use that work likely, but when you are laughing at the mother of a lead poisoned child and bragging that you handled the EPA, and it becomes all about you. It becomes about your pride, and we’re not talking about the pride that the young people here have that they wanna go out and save the world and do their job and be
fairly compensated for that. We’re talking about a pride
that comes from arrogance that says, I wanna see you force me to do my job. I wanna see you do that. How are you gonna do that? We have no check and balance
to make them do their job. Now you can talk all day about how these agencies are underfunded
and that’s partly true, but if you saw how hard they worked to not do their job, you would be pulling your hair out. Okay? They worked overtime to not do their job. They killed themselves to cover this up, and keep kids drinking that water. And so, no one sir gets up in the morning, I believe even to this
day with all I’ve see, even the worst of these people, no one gets up and says I wanna go poison a whole city and destroy
their infrastructure and kill people with legionellae, but if you allow yourself to become cynical and willfully
blind, that could be you. That could be you someday. So that’s what we teach in
our graduate ethics class. It’s my belief that
most of the young folks coming in the field, they wanna do good, and unfortunately through
our education system we do a good job to begin
teaching them to be unethical. And people tell me you
can’t teach people ethics. Well let me tell you something, history has shown we can do a great job of teaching people to be unethical. We do it every single day through these corrupt institutions, and we have to be very,
very careful about that. – [Craig] Here you go, right here. – [Woman] So 40 years ago in Michigan, there was the polybrominated diphenyl contamination of the whole
lower peninsula of Michigan, and that was a huge coverup that involved the entire state and
contaminated the food chain. I just, it’s very, I guess there’s no
institutional memory there but I worked on the staff
of the it was called the Michigan Toxic Substance
Control Commission. I was a young MPH grad in 1970, I’ll age myself, 1979, and those people who were in the book, about how the coverup occurred, they were all employed and
they were all giving me the run around because they didn’t want a watchdog agency looking over them. So I imagine that, what are the consequences? – [Marc] Okay. – [Woman] Someone should
be watching over them. – Absolutely. So let’s look at what’s happened here, and I know most people have
this initial reaction that industry is the danger. ‘Cause we’ve got a history
and we know that people behave unethically if
there’s money involved. That’s sort of human nature. To some extent we’ve addressed that, we’ve got very stringent regulations. We have laws and if you break those laws we’ve made it bad business
for you to be unethical. If you break the law you will get sued, you will pay large fines, I mean look at what happened
to British Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico,
they screwed up right? $50 billion dollars they had to pay. Stockholders, everyone took a pay cut, there was a huge hit, a message was sent. You do this it’s bad for business. We haven’t learned a similar way of making it good for business of government agencies to be ethical. The only lever we have because
there’s no profit motive, is our ability to promote good
people and fire bad people. And we don’t fire anyone. It’s practically impossible
to fire a bad actor from a federal agency. If you don’t believe me, look it up. It’s not just the CDC,
it’s not just the EPA, look up the Veteran’s
Administration scandal. Horrible things happened at
the Veteran’s Administration, Congress was so upset they passed new laws to make it easier to fire
unethical bad actors. The first time they used
that law six months ago, the firing of that person was overturned and she’s back at work today. So if you have no ability
or will to fire bad people, you’re not exercising
the only lever you have to make it good business
in government agencies to be ethical. And I could tell you one of the
great things that’s happened as a result of the Flint disaster, is when people saw eight
civil servants were indicted, a message went out that said, wow, do your job. Do your job. You don’t have to fire that
many people to send a message. That society expects you to do your job, but if you never use that lever, you end up with what we have today. Which is completely untrustworthy science and engineering agencies. And kids in Flint are not safe, my kids are not safe,
your kids are not safe, and we really, really
have to get this fixed. – [Craig] All right let’s do one more. I think I saw one here in that, oh. Oh I don’t even know how to decide. I saw you first though. I saw you first, sorry. We can maybe do two more, keep it short. (laughing) – [Man] You mentioned EPA
and you also mentioned state, but you didn’t really comment
on the local utilities role. – Okay. One of the fascinating
things about this was, if this had been a normal situation and the local utility was
overseeing the system, and they did this to themselves, the Flint disaster would
not be the Flint disaster, and here’s why. Because the state was running the system, if Flint had poisoned its own kids, the only recourse is for the
parents to sue a bankrupt city. Good luck. You’re not getting very far. But because Flint was bankrupt and they were being run
by the state completely, the state had complete control,
very unusual situation, the residents of Flint and lawyers, which are essential to getting a lot of things done in this country, realized there was deep
pockets outside entity that they could get money from. It’s part of the reason that
this disaster was exposed, and part of the reason
Washington DC was not exposed. ‘Cause in DC, it’s a prosperous community, powerful community, and
the parents had to fight their own government to
try to get the lawsuit. – [Craig] Okay, you are the last one. – [Woman] Just a quick question. Where’s the next Flint? – Okay, so that’s a good question. You know these things are
happening all around us. I mean one of the other tragedies that’s unfolded in the aftermath of Flint was East Chicago Indiana, I don’t know if you
folks are following that. After Susan Hedman resigned, a new regional administrator
was appointed to Region Five, who acknowledged that EPA knew about the fact this public housing
was built on a super fund site. The CDC, the same people who wrote that falsified report in Washington DC, wrote a report that
claimed there was no danger to those kids in East Chicago. Kids got lead poisoned, this was just admitted one month ago. And, there’s an example. And you wouldn’t have known about it unless Susan Hedman got fired. So the miracle, these things are happening
all around the country. I’m convinced of it, okay? These injustices are allowed to occur because they’re in a blind spot where people do not want to know about it. And we academics, we’re
not gonna go there, we’re not gonna offend these agencies who might give us money someday. Who’s gonna do that? Who’s gonna commit profession suicide and give up their funding
network and their funding stream? So this is a huge problem. I think that these situations are occurring all around the country, but the miracle of Flint
where they got caught and you found out about it, wont’ happen. If we had not gotten
involved in Flint Michigan as I stand here today I promise you, those kids would’ve been hurt, the vital infrastructure
would’ve been destroyed, and we outside the city would’ve said, what are you gonna do? It’s bad parents, it’s bad schools, they don’t know how to
run their government, or run their water system. You can always blame someone else. So I think that’s a really scary thing and somehow we have to figure
out a way to get it fixed. – All right let’s all
thank Mark one more time. – [Marc] Thank you, you guys were awesome. Thanks. (applauding)

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