Contaminated Water: Flint Engineers Trial Ends in Failure

Contaminated water: Flint engineers' trial ends in failure

The top of the water tower at the Flint Water Treatment Plant in Michigan.

A judge on Thursday dismissed the lawsuit of two Flint engineering firms after jurors said they were unable to reach a verdict. The dispute concerned the responsibility, or not, of the two companies.

Veolia North America and Lockwood, Andrews & Newman(LAN) were accused of not making enough effort to get Flint to treat the highly corrosive water or to encourage a return to a regional water supplier.

A procedural defect was however declared in federal court in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said Tarrah Cooper Wright, a spokeswoman for Veolia.

After hearing months of evidence, the jury began deliberating on July 25, then took an 11-day break before returning on Tuesday.

Flint's Water was contaminated in 2014-2015 because it had not been treated to reduce its corrosive effect on lead pipes.

During closing arguments, lawyers for four children argued that Veolia should be held 50% responsible for the lead contamination and that LAN should bear 25% of the liability, with public officials awarded the remainder.

But Veolia lawyers pointed out that the company was briefly engaged in the middle of the crisis, and not before the tap was turned on.

LAN said an engineer repeatedly recommended that Flint test the river water for weeks to determine what treatments were needed to prevent corrosion.

Wayne Mason, attorney for LAN, said outside engineers were lumped in with a bunch of bad actors, namely state and local officials who controlled all decisions important and seemed more concerned with the cost of water than its quality.

Veolia and LAN were not part of the landmark US$626 million settlement for residents of Flint, the State of Michigan and other parts.

With information from Associated Pres s

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