Contractor under fire for lead pipe disposal in Flint; mayor withholding payment

Posted at 5:48 PM, Sep 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-04 17:48:49-04

FLINT, Mich. (WXYZ) — A contractor in Flint is under fire for how he disposed of lead pipes and soil in a residential neighborhood, and Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said it's an environmental injustice.

When contractors do demolition, they have to dispose of the so-coiled spoils properly, and now, Neeley is fighting one contractor and the city council over a new issue.

"To allow this to happen once again in a residential area in a poor section of our community, this is unacceptable by all means," Neeley said.

The problem has been partially cleaned up, but the mayor still wants three feet of spoils still piled on top of these residential lots removed. He's withholding payment until the contractor does it.

Melvin Gray has lived on E. Mott St., a secluded, quiet street on the north end, for decades. He's lived with the dump for two years.

I couldn’t open my windows because that dust comes into my living room and my kitchen windows," Gray said.

"This is something I discovered when I came into office here," Neeley added.

His administration put the Flint contractor W.T. Stevens on notice in January to remove several thousand yards of spoils. Since 2016, that contractor has been paid $27 million to remove and replace lead pipes.

When they bought the lots in 2018, they said to clear them, use them as a storage facility, possibly build a garage.

Under the disposal plan, the contractor is obligated to only use an approved facility.

Last week, the city council discussed how the clean up is $200,00, but the mayor is holding up a million dollars.

The council voted 5-4 to pay the contractor.

"It's some unnecessary holding, holding up in time," Councilman Eric Mays said.

"That site is immaculate. And so I feel there's a motion to pay those folks immediately. Right is right, wrong is wrong. Soon as possible. I'm not getting into race," Maurice Davis added.

"I think the administration is doing what it should be doing it's holding the vender accountable for its actions," Councilwoman Kate Fields added.

On Thursday, the mayor and city attorney said the council can't order the payment.

The contractor is Jeff Grayer who came to Flint after becoming a 1980s basketball star, going on to Iowa State and playing a decade in the NBA. He has not returned our call for comment.

Raechelle Warrior said she comes over every day to check on her uncle.

"It makes me feel horrible. He’s an older guy. Why would y’all do that? Forget him? Pollute him?" she said.

Neeley has also contacted the state and the feds, but they have not gotten involved.