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Harry Shearer

Harry Shearer

Posted: April 17, 2008 11:20 AM

Oops! Just a Little Leak


Yesterday, the Times-Picayune carried a very restrained story about a potentially inflammatory subject: the Corps of Engineers has discovered a persistent leak in the 17th St. Canal floodwall, the very structure that breached disastrously in the wake of Katrina, flooding a good part of the city. Despite the restraint, the story gets ominous when you hit this quote:

"There's no reason for anyone to worry," (Corps section chief Brett) Herr said. "That floodwall isn't going anywhere."

Coming from the agency which denied, for months, any responsibility for the disaster in 2005, which vilified the engineers who, on a pro bono basis, painstakingly uncovered the Corps' litany of mis- and malfeasance in connection with the design and construction of the flood protection system, that's about as reassuring as Alberto Gonzalez insisting that "we don't torture". Down at the end of the story is the reason why this announcement might well be cause for concern:

The corps spent about $25 million repairing the breach in the months after Katrina, and extra clay was added to the site at that time, said Kevin Wagner, a corps' senior project manager for levees and floodwalls.

In spite of the clay cap, a small amount of water has continued to appear.

NOTE: A small amount of water was reported on the residential side of the canal floodwall by homeowners for a year and a half before the breach. It bubbled up in their backyards, and Corps officials weren't concerned about that, either.