No Chemists!

Governor Snyder Continues to Demonstrate The Finesse Which Made Gateway Great

Snyder Flint Press Conference 27 January 2016Governor Snyder announced the remaining members of the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee today. No chemists. Not one person with a chemistry degree. Undoubtedly, a fine collection of worthy government officials. Four ‘field experts’, none of whom are chemists. Medical doctors are not chemists. Public health administrators are not chemists. Civil engineers are not chemists. Materials scientists are not chemists. Chemists are chemists. Chemists know things:


The lead in Flint drinking water is, at its core, an issue of water chemistry. Water chemistry was allowed to go completely berserk at the Flint Water Treatment Plant for 18 months. Flint’s distribution system has been severely damaged. Fixing that damaged distribution piping is a venture into uncharted territory. Only an inorganic chemist with a command of thermodynamics, kinetics, pH, ICP-OES analysis, and the equilibrium of redox reactions will successfully navigate this uncharted territory. Not another lying MDEQ clown, either. They had their shot and blew it. Why the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee is necessary in the first place.

Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev Дми́трий Ива́нович Менделе́ев 1834 – 1907

Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev
Дми́трий Ива́нович Менделе́ев
1834 – 1907

No one will trust Flint water until its chemistry is brought under control and that will require adult supervision – a genuine chemist. Detroit Water & Sewerage water is not a magic bullet. Detroit’s water works in Detroit’s distribution system. Detroit’s distribution system has not been damaged by 18 months of reckless water chemistry.

Flint’s water chemistry needs to be fixed, yesterday. New lawsuits against the State of Michigan are being filed every day. The latest filed this morning by the ACLU and a host of liberal pressure groups takes a new tack, alleging violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Suffice it to say, Michigan has no viable legal defense against this suit.

Michigan taxpayers are going to pay for this, and they are going to pay more every day the Flint Water Treatment Plant operates without adult supervision. Need I remind anyone that Flint’s Public Works Director, Howard Croft, resigned in November? The Flint Water Treatment Plant wasn’t exactly a model operation when it did have a Director. Just how well might it be performing now without one? Note that they are no longer publishing their Monthly Operating Reports. Anyone care to speculate why?  A real confidence builder there.

Periodic Table Image Pb 1Even Attorney General Schuette is outraged that Flint residents are being charged an average $ 140 a month for undrinkable water. Water which can only be used to flush toilets. This outrage would be criminal fraud were it to be perpetrated by the private sector. Only the government can screw the public to this extent.

The outrage factor here does not bode well for Michigan taxpayers when the Flint water lawsuits land in court. Does anyone think that plaintiff’s counsel will miss the fact that Michigan neglected to put a chemist in charge of a chemistry problem? That the Flint Water Plant is operating without adult supervision? It is a fundamental tenet of management to match skill sets with positions.  Not happening here.

If nothing else motivates Governor Snyder to find and empower a competent chemist, he should contemplate his prospective cross examinations in those Flint water lawsuits. They get uglier with each passing day he dithers. Videos thereof will probably not be an asset in a Cabinet confirmation hearing before a U.S. Senate committee either.

AnalytikJena ICP Instrument 1Hint to Governor Snyder – Installing another Michigan bureaucrat without portfolio in Flint will promote confusion and sow dissention, not help Flint solve its problems. Send Flint a brand spanking new ICP-OES instrument and qualified technicians. Costs a lot less and does a whole lot more.  Flint is going to be doing a lot of lead and metal analyses.

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  15 comments for “No Chemists!

  1. JD
    January 28, 2016 at 4:26 am

    "...Undoubtedly, a fine collection of worthy government officials. Four ‘field experts’, none of whom are chemists..."

    I see one engineer...who is a 'professor' specializing in who knows what or with what background..period.
    A private sector engineer specializing in water delivery systems (wehether he had a chemical degree or not) would be appropriate over anyone put forth to date given that they're going to rip the whole thing out anyways and that nobody should be touching the stuff in the first place.

    I want to see people up in arms as to the legislature deciding anything at this point besides cutting costs to pay for all of this immediately. These people are about to riot in the streets. Throwing millions out the window just to prevent them from doing so without a plan in hand IMMEDIATELY (as in months ago when every single legislator knew about this) is not acceptable.

    Conservatives are acting as if they can play the same 'wait and see' game as establishment Republicans while full well knowing that we're broke, desperate and (should be by now) FAR 'past' sending water bottles/filters to keep these people afloat. The fast upcoming/needed cuts to pay for this fiasco and many more fast upcoming unfunded liabilities aren't necessarily part of the TP 'platform'..IF the latter reality speeds up/adversely affects the (retired or about to) tea party faithful anytime soon.

    I say give the people of Flint everything that they need and that these gray hairs previously expecting to skate out on the backs of our children...get a taste of what it is like to be treated like Flint residents in terms of being ignored (which is what our older generation is doing right now to our children with their FAKE 'no self-sacrifice needed here!' activism).

    Our kids will thank us.

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  2. Corinthian Scales
    January 28, 2016 at 5:11 am

    Well, back in 2010, Republican Snyder/Calley did run on the platform of treating taxpayers as "customers" so, why would anyone expect anything other than a bean counter's Gateway outcome?

    OABTW, 200 and counting:

    Pay up, suckers!

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  3. Corinthian Scales
    January 28, 2016 at 6:23 am

    Meanwhile in Lansing...

    Snyder: "Michiganders, is there anything we can do to refocus attention away from this water thing?"

    Calley: "Well, golly, maybe Julie, and I could take the Blind Justice out on another Handicapable™ tour."

    Snyder: "*sigh* Bill?"

    Schuette: "I'm on it, Rick."

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  4. Sue Schwartz
    January 28, 2016 at 7:40 am

    10x25MM that you again for your insight. I have a friend who is a bio-chemist of impeccable credentials who sells health insurance. Another who fled to England with two doctorates in the field now teaching. Others go to drug companies concocting poisons for the masses. There's no "honest" money here for these highly trained individuals burdened with huge student loans and the inability to work in their field of training.

    As for the lawsuits--we're going to see a whole bunch of governmental immunity being thrown around which will be successful because there's no criminal intent to be found. Stupidity and incompetence does not equal criminal intent. And its my understanding that this whole thing started because of a pissing match between Detroit and Flint BEFORE the EM came on-board.

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  5. Bob Cushman
    January 28, 2016 at 8:25 am

    The Root Cause of the Flint Water Crisis

    As I look at the whole Flint Water Crisis, I am struck by the disingenuous accusations that are flying. One side would have us believe that this is all Governor Snyder’s fault. The other side points to a Mayor of Flint and his staff that no longer are in office. There is no simple easy villain in all of this. It is in fact quite complicated.
    This crisis began because the city of Flint was attempting to save money from the over-charging of another municipality, the city of Detroit. Flint believed that they could save money by partnering up with a company to pull their water directly from Lake Huron. As we now know, the problem lead did not come from the Flint River but rather the pipes and joints in this aging infrastructure. It was enabled by the PH (acid vs base) property of the water from the Flint River. This acidic chemical property enabled the protective coating on the inside of these ancient water pipes to dissolve enough to allow some lead to “leach” into the water. Whom do we blame; the Governor, the State run Department of Environmental Quality or the previous Mayor of Flint for trying to save money?
    The art of problem solving requires that we analyze all contributing factors prior to attempting to propose an all-inclusive solution. Let us closely examine the root cause. The City of Detroit has run a Water Department for more than two centuries. During the course of this time, it has grown to be one of the largest Water Departments in the United Sates. The DWSD serves 4,000,000 people, 40% of the population of the entire state. It is a monopoly of gigantic proportions. Imagine having a business where 40% of the state population is forced to buy this product from you in order to survive.
    One of the responsibilities of government is to protect its citizens from abusive monopolies. Many states protect their citizens from Utility Companies that need to be monopolies with Public Service Commissions that regulate pricing. Michigan does this with gas and electricity but not water. Why not? Representative Heise has a bill to correct this which the Governor refuses to allow a vote on. Let’s focus on the root cause of the problem. Please see for further information.
    Bob Cushman

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    • Corinthian Scales
      January 28, 2016 at 9:09 am

      Pardom me for a moment, Mr. Cushman, as an aside, it is observed that you publicly classify "Pat Colbeck (State Senator) , Clark Durant( founder of Cornerstone Schools) and Kyle Smitley (founder of Detroit Achievement Academy) are my heroes and friends" perhaps, you are the one best able to get Sen. Colbeck to speak about his vote here.

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  6. JD
    January 28, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    I would argue that Senator Colbeck authored (by far) the most important illustration of "conservative values" and the overall Tea Party platfor in the history of this state (after all, even McMillin got solidly behind him along with every single RINO Republican alive:

    Hard to argue billion(s) in generational theft.

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  7. Sue Schwartz
    January 29, 2016 at 5:58 am

    That's "thank you" 10x25MM. We need some Breaking Bad here--Walt, where are you when we need you????

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    • Corinthian Scales
      January 29, 2016 at 7:30 am

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  8. JD
    January 30, 2016 at 4:52 am

    Didn't we have a discussion here already (quite some time ago) as to these poor kids (still) being poisoned if they used the Snyder "we've got our best people on it (now) by gosh!" filters (anyways)???

    I can't find it yet I could swear that 10x25MM brought it up. We pointed out what was needed to filter lead and how expensive the proposition was to do this even 'somewhat' correctly until the '2nd' filter gave up.

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    • JD
      January 30, 2016 at 5:07 am

      Here is how at least one company tackles heavy metals in drinking water (the prefilters are sitting inside the stainless can):

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    • 10x25MM
      January 30, 2016 at 5:45 am

      Funny you should bring this up. Big story this morning are the ANSI/NSF 53 adsorption filters issued to Flint residents and their capabilities. These are adsorption filters, not absorption filters. Adsorption filters are rate limited and the rate limitation depends upon the concentration of lead (and other contaminants) requiring removal.

      Higher concentrations of lead (and other contaminants) than the filter rating can be removed, but the user must reduce the water flow rate across the adsorption element (this increases 'contact time'). Typical kitchen faucet flows range anywhere from 1 gallon per minute to 7 gpm, depending upon design, pipe size feeding it, and water pressure. NSF 53 is more of a testing methodology than an actual capability specification, so the filters' manufacturers have to be consulted for exact capabilities which will be rate delimited.

      The capabilities of adsorption filters decay with usage and rising pH. So a typical ANSI/NSF 53 filter sold with a 100 gallon capability might become incapable after only 30 gallons of high contaminant loaded water, or high pH water.

      The filter issue was raised in the comments to several posts, notably in the first on Flint water.

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      • Corinthian Scales
        January 30, 2016 at 8:30 am

        Deoxyribonucleic acid tracking:

        Pandora's box, opens wider:

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