An investigative science reporting series by Flintwaterstudy.org
NOTE FOR THE QUEASY:
This blog series involves heart-wrenching whistleblowing—the sort that comes from alleging misconduct of your own professional colleagues for actions harming the public and others. We cannot imagine that any reader is more sickened than we are, by having to air “dirty laundry” that includes sharing personal emails and discussing unethical behavior. But given the continued damage that would arise from remaining silent, we feel morally obligated to present evidence against FACHEP leadership in relation to:
– falsifying qualifications to win a multi-million dollar sole source grant during a federal emergency
– literally making a felony criminal case, out of legitimate criticism directed at their unprofessional work, which is best characterized as narcissistic victimization (a.k.a. “crybullying”)
– spreading malicious rumors, to ingratiate themselves with Flint residents at the expense of others
– violating the ASCE second canon, harming others through their incompetence
– wrongly taking credit for research ideas and data, belonging to others (e.g., Dr. Faust and Dr. Masten)
Please also be aware that FACHEP supporters have been FOIAing Flintwaterstudy, Dr. Edwards, Dr. Masten (MSU) and Dr. Maya Trotz (President AEESP) since Fall 2017. In fact, proving that no good deed goes unpunished, emails of 40+ members of our Flintwaterstudy team have been subpoenaed, for dozens of Michigan lawsuits and criminal cases that we are not even party to. Emails from the FOIA have been misrepresented by FACHEP supporters on social media to denigrate Virginia Tech undergraduate students, Dr. Sid Roy, Dr. Masten and Dr. Edwards. FACHEP faculty have even smeared Dr. Trotz as “unethical.” Dr. Edwards filed a defamation lawsuit, which is partly related to actions of FACHEP faculty and their supporters as described herein. The facts presented in this series shed light on how such an unthinkable tragedy could unfold.
Cast of Key Characters Parts 1-11
|Dr. Shawn McElmurry
|WSU – Civil Engineering
|FACHEP’s Founder, Witness in Felony Trials
|Dr. Marcus Zervos
|WSU – Infectious Disease
|FACHEP co-PI, Witness in Felony Trials
|Dr. Paul Kilgore
|WSU – Pharmacy
|FACHEP co-PI, Witness in Felony Trials
|Dr. Nancy Love
|UM – Civil Engineering
|Dr. McElmurry’s Enabler/Defender; Water Filter Research, Engineering Ethics Pontificator
|Dr. Yanna Lambrinidou
|Parents for Non-Toxic Alternatives
|Friend of FACHEP, Adversary of Flintwaterstudy
|Dr. Eden Wells
|MI Chief Medical Officer
|Accused of obstructing FACHEP/justice
|Mr. Nick Lyon
|MI Health Chief
|Accused of obstructing FACHEP/justice
|VT – Civil Engineering
|Flintwaterstudy leader – Author of this blog Series; Potable Water Legionella, Lead, Ethics Expertise
|Dr. Amy Pruden
|VT – Civil Engineering
|VT Flint research co-PI; Potable Water Legionella and Microbiology Expertise
|Dr. Kasey Faust
|UT – Civil Engineering
|PhD work in Flint 2013-2015 on Shrinking Cities; Dr. McElmurry was on her PhD Committee
|Dr. Sue Masten
|MSU – Civil Engineering
|FACHEP Member and Whistleblower; Drinking Water Treatment Expertise
Part XII. What Wonders Love Hath Wrought
(December 15, 2016 to January 10, 2017)
Dr. Edwards read the above concluding statement to his very first Flint Water Crisis hate email on January 10, 2017 at 1:25 pm. It was not to be the last. The email asked him to “fess up” and “ease his conscience” because Flint “water is not safe to bathe in” and that the humanitarian POU filter “treatment of the water has caused bacteria issues.” It went on to claim that Edwards was “poisoning children” and causing “countless other horrendous affects” and warned of eternal damnation.
Over the next few hours and days, more hateful emails trickled in, one of which had a helpful hint to “Watch your back” because (misspelling in original):
“…Wayne State <FACHEP> found dangerous bacteria in the filters causing rashes and shigell. The enterobactracie are obnormal and the water has to be boiled or UV’d or else we will diel. But you and the state hide the TRUTH! You have been bought and paid for and we now how to take care of peope like you. Stay out of Flint. We dont trust you any more. I hope you will DIE!
Upon reading the first message, Edwards was shocked, puzzled, and confused. He received the email during the Flint EPA Data Summit Meeting in Chicago at the EPA Region 5 Headquarters. Coincidentally, when he looked up from his Dell laptop, FACHEP’s Drs. Love, Zervos
Perplexed, immediately after the meeting was over, Edwards approached the three FACHEP faculty at a Chicago airport gate, informing them of the threatening emails and other rumors. Their faces were completely expressionless and unsurprised, except for Dr. Love, who flashed a satisfied smirk.
As will be revealed below, Love had been working overtime on her filter bacteria fear campaign, which FACHEP had first rolled out December 14, 2016 at the Flint library. Love decided that Edwards was an obstacle to her Flint filter manifesto, and he would pay a price for it.
DR. LOVE’s “PEER REVIEWED” FILTER MANIFESTO PAPER
After scaring residents at the Flint library on December 14, 2016, with her misunderstandings of drinking water treatment and alarmist messages about filter dangers (see blog 9), Love was becoming increasingly frustrated that the relief agencies (FEMA, MDEQ, CDC, EPA, MDHSS
The first crafty attempt to require “boil filtered water” recommendations to many Flint residents, was through revisions to IRB protocols associated with FACHEP sampling. That attempt failed December 23, 2016 at 2 am in the morning, when Wells said such recommendations could only be given based on a positive E. Coli result.
Thus, Love devised a new strategy to completely circumvent the relief agencies, whom she considered incompetent and unethical because, in her opinion, they had “decided to deploy an intervention <POU filters in Flint> that they do not understand.” She would submit her “filter manifesto” manuscript to Environmental Science and Technology (ES&T) Letters, a journal known for rapid review and publication of “hot-topic” short-form papers.
She had been in communication with the journal
There were two problems with Love’s plan: schedule and legality. Submitting the manuscript by evening December 26th was a tall order. It was not until 1 pm on Christmas Eve that Drs. Love and McElmurry had decided on
Shawn will be sending out the paper yet today- we’re trying to tone down the “political” statements at the end by keeping in the objective parts and removing the opinionated parts. We’ll need final feedback by Monday <December 26th> and upload it <that night>.
For those unfamiliar with the process, the idea of providing 10 co-authors a still incomplete draft of a peer-reviewed journal paper on Christmas Eve and expecting “final feedback” by December 26th is nothing short of absurd. Masten even spent much of her Christmas Day adding her contributions to the paper.
Legally, FACHEP was also required to submit papers to MDHSS for review 30 days before any paper could be submitted to a journal. Masten repeatedly expressed alarm about the ethics and legality of ignoring that specific contract language, but Love dismissed Masten’s concerns by asserting that they would claim that FACHEP’s co-authors (Pauli, Kilgore
Ultimately, Love submitted the manuscript on December 28th, 2016, without Masten approving of this ethically dubious scheme or the final version of the paper (it is unclear if all other co-authors did approve, as
Because this manuscript was developed independently of the State of Michigan work, the funding agreement with the State is not applicable and there is no reason to solicit MDHHS review. On a side note, I maintain a close working relationship with the MDHHS and have already discussed these results with them; they are fully aware of this work.
The emails below make us doubt the truthfulness of this statement.
FACHEP TO DR. WELLS: NOTHING NEW ABOUT POU FILTER RISKS
By this point, Dr. Wells was probably beginning to realize that her sanity and legal jeopardy, would depend on developing a 6th sense relative to FACHEP antics and dishonesty. On January 5th, 2017, she correctly sensed something was amiss in relation to the upcoming meetings at Chicago (EPA) and in Flint, and explicitly emailed McElmurry and Love, desperately trying to pin them down on future plans regarding POU filter messaging.
For example, Wells asked the professors three very basic yet important questions:
- What is the threat <they are trying to fix>?
- Is the threat isolated to Flint, or to all users of <POU> filters in any county or state?
- What risk to health is being mitigated by the flushing?
Significantly, at no point did McElmurry mention their ES&T Letters paper, which Masten had just argued that they were legally obligated to disclose to MDHSS 30 days prior to submission. This confirms our suspicion that the paper was written specifically to blind side Dr. Wells and the relief agencies. Note that in her response to Masten, Love wrote that the paper would “get a reaction no matter what,” and that <Love> was “not worried about the State <of MI>.“
FACHEP TO DR. EDWARDS: EVERYTHING NEW ABOUT FILTER RISKS
On January 5th, 2017, just eight minutes before writing the above email to Dr. Wells, McElmurry and Love emailed Edwards and asked for a “Quick phone call before the January 10th <EPA data summit> meeting.” In the call, Love and McElmurry would assert that they were upending the conventional wisdom about POU filter risks–completely contradicting their written claims of “Unknown, unknown, unknown” risks to Wells.
In the email, McElmurry half-apologized for not following up with Edwards’ earlier December 8th request for an immediate cell phone call to discuss why FACHEP would not agree that Flint water was improving. McElmurry claimed that “the preholiday crunch didn’t leave me anytime to explain.”
Of course, McElmurry did not tell Edwards how FACHEP was already using a false story about that same email to smear Edwards, by claiming Edwards asked McElmurry to sign a document claiming that Flint water was “safe.” He also did not reveal that, while FACHEP would privately tell other scientists that Flint water was obviously “much improved,” they would publicly state the exact opposite in order to win over Flint activists and gleefully malign Edwards.
In the ensuing phone call January 6th, 2017, Edwards was completely stunned by Love and McElmurry’s ignorance of basic water treatment principles and false assumptions about Flint POU filter use. Love told Edwards that FACHEP would soon have a peer-reviewed paper showing there were “dangerous bacteria” in Flint POU filters. She spewed nonsense about filters as a “single barrier” that left Flint residents in imminent danger, and indicated FACHEP would soon tell residents to “boil filtered water” in order to protect themselves.
Love further asserted that the type of POU filter distributed by relief agencies was inappropriate for the situation in Flint and that such filters were not widely used elsewhere in America. Edwards immediately corrected that inaccurate statement, verbally and immediately after the phone call in writing. To repeat for emphasis, on January 6th, 2017, Drs. Love and McElmurry appeared unaware that the type of POU filters distributed in Flint, were voluntarily purchased and installed in tens of millions of U.S. homes to remove lead and disinfection by-products (DBPs).
In later email exchanges with McElmurry and Love, Edwards provided references they were unaware of, indicating that Enterobacter DNA on filters should not be considered “abnormal” based on principles of MOBE 101 and research by Pruden/Edwards team (and many others) showing such DNA was common in tap water across the US.
Summarizing the essence of the shocking phone call to his colleague, Pruden, Edwards wrote: “Nancy <Love> at her worst.”
FACHEP: POU FILTERS CAUSE RASHES/RESPIRATORY PROBLEMS
Extremely concerned, Edwards broadened the email conversation to include Dr. Wells (MDHSS) and EPA, who FACHEP was also intentionally keeping in the dark about the ES&T Letters submittal and associated plans. Edwards wrote to all parties:
In the call you <FACHEP> also speculated that there is a problem with fecal contamination in the Flint system, due to main breaks or other deficiencies, If the Flint water system is currently unusually fecal contaminated and compromised…, then the Flint water is dangerous with or without the filters. If you actually discover fecal bacteria, the accepted response is to increase chlorine and/or issue boil water orders…
The residents also have received a message from your team, that you think the filter bacteria might be causing their rashes and respiratory problems.
Edwards then phoned Dr. Wells, who for the first time, confided her frustration about FACHEP’s irresponsible undermining of the relief efforts with Edwards. She noted Love showed disrespect for input from Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), like CDC’s Dr. Michael Beach. Wells sounded utterly exhausted, and apparently had no choice but to try and work with FACHEP as best she could.
FACHEP and UM Team, These <Edwards points> are precisely the concerns that I raised at our Friday morning meeting. …There was definitely a problem with communication at your town meeting that implicated somehow rashes and respiratory diseases were associated with filter bacteria….
McElmurry’s response to Wells was superficially conciliatory, feigning confusion about where on earth residents could have ever been given the idea that rashes and other disease were coming from filters:
We understand there is some confusion and likely misinterpretation that arose from our meeting on December 14. We are not entirely clear about where exactly the misunderstanding about rashes and respiratory illness comes from…
Recall that McElmurry himself caused the Webber’s to believe that the POU filters were causing Staph infections. And the very next day, McElmurry was essentially contradicted by Dr. Zervos in writing, who revealed that FACHEP was standing by its comments that there were a host of “atypical” bacteria supposedly found on Flint filters causing rashes and respiratory problems, responding January 9th at 7 am:
I stand by my comments, Eden do you have any information that rash incidence is down in Flint…
…Here’s the issue Marcus, is that exactly what about bacteria and filters causes rashes…you’re making a leap that somehow Bactrian filters causes rash disease and I would like to know where your information is coming from. Again – anecdotes or not acceptable- Please provide me the clinical information that shows the bacteria on a filter causes rashes or respiratory diseases.
we should not accept organisms like klebsiella and Enterobacter, and atypical mycobacteria and enterococcus in potable water amplified by filters as safe. ….Enterocccus among other bacteria that Nancy found are fecal indicators.
Again you’re making an unfounded association and implication where there isn’t one. What you’re essentially saying is that eczema, of which I am a sufferer, can be due to the use of my filter and that people who have been using bacteria filters for the last three decades may likely be getting eczema from their water filters?
At that point, the back and forth suddenly stopped, because unbeknownst to Dr. Wells, FACHEP received an email from ES&T Letters.
LOVE’S FILTER MANIFESTO IMPLODES
On January 9th, 2017 at 9:07 am, Dr. Love received the following email from the Editor, about her Flint filter manifesto paper.
Dear Dr. Love:
…I regret to inform you that the manuscript cannot be accepted for publication in ES&T Letters….the reviewers all expressed serious reservations regarding the suitability of your manuscript for publication. Their major concerns were:
1. The finding that bacterial numbers are initially elevated in water from a filter is not novel or important. This has been well known for many years, and numbers of bacteria alone tell you nothing about the safety of the water.
2. The finding that the filters are working as expected is not particularly a novel result. <Given that such a paper would stimulate>…fears of bacterial “contamination” (which may or more likely may not be harmful), rapid publication of an incomplete story is a concern.
In an instant, Love’s plans to unveil her paper at the January 10 EPA data summit and January 11, 2017 Town Hall meeting imploded. Even worse, all four anonymous reviewers had the exact same opinion that had been expressed to Love by the relief agencies for 6 straight months.
I’m not surprised by the reviews since, as Shawn knows, I was uncomfortable with parts of it….this gap was obvious to the reviewers…I know we had a strategy for why we wanted this paper out quickly and by January 10…Going forward, I only want to put papers in when the data are ready…
The mourning over the rejection of their ES&T Letters filter manifesto manuscript dream was apparently brief. With renewed vigor, the team launched a delusional crybully tale, in which Edwards was the villain responsible for their paper being rejected, and Love was a “silenced” victim heroically fighting for Flint residents. Despite the fact that there were 4 anonymous reviews on the paper, Dr. Zervos later recommended that the group should “resubmit <the filter paper> somewhere else and ask for Edwards not to be a reviewer because there is a conflict of interest.”
The death threats and emails declaring Edwards’ soul to be eternally damned, for somehow silencing Dr. Love’s alleged discovery of abnormal bacteria on the Flint POU filters, literally started the day after her filter manifesto manuscript was rejected by ES&T Letters. Ironically, when he opened the first emails, he was sitting in a Chicago meeting where the FACHEP faculty were publicly stating one position, while their rumormongering to Flint residents was communicating the exact opposite position.
DR. LOVE IN THE DRAFT BOOK “FLINT FIGHTS BACK”
Pauli’s draft book chapter once again provides revelatory insights into the lies FACHEP told themselves and Flint residents. First, there is not one word in the book chapter, about FACHEP’s POU filter fearmongering being soundly rejected in a peer-reviewed article submitted in late December 2016.
Pauli was a co-author on the manuscript, so this omission should not be due to lack of knowledge on his part; however, we found no record he ever read or approved the ES&T Letters manuscript. The very fact that a social scientist, specializing in anarchy and radicalism, was co-author of a peer-reviewed technical paper is also a mystery, except that he was deftly using Love’s filter manifesto as a prop in his Flint anarchy experiments.
In relation to the January 6th phone call between Love, McElmurry, and Edwards that is meticulously documented with emails herein, Pauli writes (read the last page here):
Worried that Edwards was “backing himself into a corner” by rushing to judgment before all the <POU filter bacteria> data were in, McElmurry and Love tried to get him to reconsider his position on a conference call in the lead up to the Chicago <January 10th 2016 EPA data> summit.
“That just failed,” Love recalls. “He just didn’t wanna hear it.” Instead, at the summit Edwards accused FACHEP of causing “much of Flint” to lose faith in the filters, offering only anecdotal evidence.
If anyone was backed into a corner, it was Dr. Love, who with no significant experience, took a scientific position on POU filters contrary to a unified consensus position of WHO, FEMA, CDC, EPA, MDEQ, MDHHS, GCHD and Dr. Edwards during a water emergency. And who on earth was “rushing to judgment,” if not Dr. Love, who drove colleagues to give up their holidays, to submit a rush job paper she was “uncomfortable” with using data that was not “ready”?
And the clear purpose of that phone call was to tell Edwards the data were all in, the ES&T Letters paper was coming, and that VT should start telling Flint residents to boil filtered water.
By January 2017, Dr. Love and FACHEP had literally invested 6 months of effort into rumormongering about alleged dangers of the POU filters in Flint. Many Flint residents believed that WSU/UM, were on the verge of publishing papers proving POU filters were dangerous–we will later see how Dr. Love actively encouraged that belief.
The FACHEP team of quintessential faculty crybullies were well on their way, to weaving conspiracy stories involving all of the relief agencies, Wells, Edwards, and even EPA Whistleblower Miguel del Toral. This would reach a public crescendo at the January 11, 2017 Flint Town Hall Meeting, and also lead to the Edwards defamation case (now dismissed) and the ongoing Wells felony criminal felony trial.
My meaning is to work what wonders love hath wrought,
Wherewith I muse why men of wit have love so dearly bought;
For love is worse than hate, and eke more harm hath done:
Record I take of those that rede of Paris, Priam’s son.
It seemed the God of sleep had mazed so much his wits
When he refused wit for love, which cometh but by fits;
But why accuse I him, whom earth hath covered long?
There be of his posterity alive, I do him wrong.
Whom I might well condemn to be a cruel judge
Unto myself, who hath the crime in others that I grudge.
Edward de Vere 1576