(Note: I’m leaving this at the top for about 3 hours. Scroll down to see more Wizbang content.)
For those of you following the saga of the Corps of Engineers flooding New Orleans, the game all but ended this morning. There is still a little time left on the clock but Don Meredith is already singing “Turn Out the Lights, The Party’s Over.”
If you’ve missed a few episodes, here’s a catch-up. The Corps came out with their own report last week (a Friday document dump) on why the floodwalls failed. It said the floodwalls failed because of an “unforeseeable combination of events.” (Then it listed that series of events)
In other words, “Don’t blame us, there was no way for anyone to know the walls would fail, nobody could have predicted this.”
That whole “unforeseeable combination of events” line would be more believable if the Corps of engineers had not -themselves- tested the floodwalls and had them fail 20 years ago in the exact same manner they claimed last week was “unforeseeable.”
That’s right. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers KNEW 20 years ago the design was faulty and they used it anyway. Then they lied (cough again cough) to cover it up.
Corps’ own 1986 study showed collapse possible, scientists say
By Bob Marshall
Findings by an Army Corps of Engineers-sponsored panel that the collapse of the 17th Street Canal floodwall during Hurricane Katrina was the result of an “unforeseeable” combination of events are contradicted by a 1986 research project done by the corps itself, National Science Foundation investigators said Monday.
The Inter-agency Performance Evaluation Task Force, working for the corps to investigate the levee breaches, said in its second interim report Friday that the 17th Street failure was caused by rising water in the canal that forced the floodwall to flex away from the canal, causing a separation between the wall and the levee inside the canal. Water pressure building inside the opening then exerted force on a weak layer of soil under the wall and the land-side toe of the levee, causing the layer to slip and bringing the levee down and the wall with it. [That will be important later. -ED]
Spokesmen for the 50-member task force, composed of researchers from academia, industry, and state and federal agencies, as well as the corps, said a review of engineering literature revealed this specific “failure mechanism” had not been noted before the design and construction of the project from the late 1980s until 1994.
But in a sharply worded response issued Monday, two University of California-Berkeley professors leading a 34-member National Science Foundation investigation into the levee failures said the 1986 corps research make those claims “unfortunate” and “inaccurate.”
Ray Seed and Bob Bea said the 20-year-old test, which included constructing floodwalls on existing levees and raising water levels to determine what pressures the walls could withstand, resulted in the same kind of collapse that toppled the 17th Street structures and flooded much of the city.
“In simple terms this was exactly the ‘unforeseen’ mode of failure” reported by the task force, the statement said.
A spokesman for the corps’ New Orleans District said the task force would be reviewing the National Science Foundation statements and might have comments later. Calls to task force directors were not immediately returned.
The 1986 corps test, done in the Atchafalaya Basin on soils purposely meant to simulate those in the New Orleans area, resulted in a series of events that closely mirrors those that occurred on the 17th Street Canal during Katrina, the science foundation statement said. As water levels rose against floodwalls built for the test, a “dramatic increase” in deflections of the sheet piles occurred, followed by a “gap developing between the sheet piles and the soils, allowing water to flow between the sheet piles and the soils, exerting additional hydrostatic pressures on the piles,” the foundation engineers said.
Sound familiar? That’s the exact same way they said the floodwalls failed during Katrina but claimed was “unforeseeable .” They knew before they built the floodwalls around New Orleans their design was flawed but used it anyway. Then they never mention this test in their own report. — This is why I say the Corps CAN NOT be trusted to investigate itself. — They have a long history of lying to the public. I’ve documented it here repeatedly.
Just when you think it can’t get worse for the Corps, it does.
Here are 2 paragraphs from a story that ran last night on the TP website:
The lack of action after the 1985 test apparently “comes down to an internal schism within the Corps,” Seed said. “The researchers doing the work were from the Waterways Experiment Station — a think tank within the Corps where experimental research was done.
“Sometimes there’s separation between the engineers in the research center and the working Joes in some of the districts. It wasn’t all that surprising. It was just disappointing,” he said.
It was just a disappointing lack of communication. Yet another Corps lie. That’s contradicted by this morning’s story. (returning to the main story now)
The results of those experiments were widely circulated among corps officials, the foundation engineers said. Further, the researchers involved in the test alerted the New Orleans District, which was overseeing the design of the area’s hurricane floodwalls, that its study suggested the need to find new methods to “analyze both the soils supporting the sheet piling and concrete floodwalls, and the sheet pile/floodwalls themselves,” the foundation statement said.
They were even alerted to the problem and they ignored their own testing department. This wasn’t a “disappointing” lack of communication. This was malfeasance.
1200+ People dead. 300,000+ People homeless. $300+ Billion worth of property damage. All avoidable. Think about it.