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Adding fuel to the fire

Via the esteemed Michelle Malkin, we find this account by Professor Bainbridge about a news story in the Los Angeles Times that describes a New Orleans flood-prevention project that was stopped by a lawsuit on behalf of a group called Save Our Wetlands.

According to their own site, Professor Bainbridge notes, SOWL has been involved in numerous lawsuits about changes to Lake Pontchartrain, changes that experts say very well could have lessened or even prevented the flooding of New Orleans.

I have my doubts about whether anything could have prevented a strong Category 4 hurricane like Katrina from overwhelming any man-made obstacle, but we'll never know -- thanks to SOWL and the like.

But a little part of me has to wonder if SOWL is now preparing a lawsuit over the zillions of gallons of contaminated, highly-toxic water now being pumped into Lake Pontchartrain as engineers attempt to drain New Orleans...


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Comments (15)

Aren't they the same group ... (Below threshold)

Aren't they the same group that is blocking the border fence near San Diego?

Jay, you are EEEVILLL.... (Below threshold)
Wanderlust:

Jay, you are EEEVILLL.

(channeling Dr. Evil)

"But a little part of me has to wonder if SOWL is now preparing a lawsuit over the zillions of gallons of contaminated, highly-toxic water now being pumped into Lake Pontchartrain as engineers attempt to drain New Orleans..."

Like pigs to slop, don'tcha think...?

Hey, I have an idea: get the liberalgirl "Blue Flypaper" to come up with a solution! She'll fix it...

I don't know about that, wa... (Below threshold)

I don't know about that, wanderlust; right now I think she's got her hands full with wildcard.

Back on topic:

Of COURSE they're going to sue, Jay Tea. I don't believe you actually had to ask. And you talk about ME asking silly questions. :)

Maybe they won't sue becaus... (Below threshold)
LCVRWC:

Maybe they won't sue because, "The principal members of the environmental group, several of whom lived in the flooded areas of the city, could not be reached for comment."

I want to say, "Heh," but some might think that tasteless and cruel.

LCVRWC:Yep, that's... (Below threshold)

LCVRWC:

Yep, that's tasteless and cruel alright. Mind if I use it?

Another interesting observa... (Below threshold)

Another interesting observation is this: had these walls been built, and they had saved New Orleans, THEY WOULDN'T BE PUMPING TOXIC SLUDGE INTO THE LAKE NOW! Its possible that by working so hard to save their wetlands, they paved the way for a really bad disaster to hit them.

I suggest that SOWL borrow ... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

I suggest that SOWL borrow Sean Penn"s red cup and dip all that water being pumped out back into tanker trucks and dump it in Mass. by Robert (the sky is falling the sky is falling) Kennedy"s house.

Feel free, fatman.... (Below threshold)
LCVRWC:

Feel free, fatman.

You know, the "toxic sludge... (Below threshold)

You know, the "toxic sludge" they're pumping now is mostly the same toxic sludge that gets pumped out whenever it rains, with a moderate dose of human waste added for garnish. In a couple of weeks, after some rain, it's going to be plain old runoff.

cirby -- perhaps except for... (Below threshold)

cirby -- perhaps except for the extensive VOCs from fuel/gas/oil spliis.

Perhaps those who lost thei... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Perhaps those who lost their houses could sue SOWL?

This issue reminds me of th... (Below threshold)
-S-:

This issue reminds me of the Castro's-Doctors-In-Waiting one. And Kim Jong Whosits: "I will bwing chaaaa-ahc to de wuuuuuuld." It's as if the environmental left is now melding into one giant thing with the arch evils of our world, in the name of "saving" everyone else from themselves.

In 1977 Save Our Wetlands I... (Below threshold)
louisiana:

In 1977 Save Our Wetlands Inc.(SOWL) enjoined a
planned Corps Hurricane Barrier project(floodgates),
where the Gulf of Mexico enters Lake Pontchartrain at
the Chef Menteur-Rigolets.
Immediately after Hurricane Katrina, Joe Towers, a
retired Corps counsel stated that if these barriers
had been constructed "New Orleans would have been
saved." This statement was picked up by the right wing
hate anti environmentalist spin docs into a fabricated
"Green Genocide" yawn and spun around the internet.
However, it so happens that Joe Towers was the Corps
counsel that SOWL complained to the FBI about when the
Corps was caught criminally diking-damning 5,200 acres
of navigable wetlands for the Eden Isle Subdivision,
located smack dab in the middle of a hurricane tidal
surge, on the North Shores of Lake Pontchartrain,
Slidell,La. And it also happens that this same Eden
Isle Subdivision has now been obliterated by Hurricane
Katrina. 19So you can't help but wonder how reliable
a source Joe Towers can be??
Unfortunately for the Rush Limbaugh-Fox-National
Review-Karl Rowe-Clear Channel-pro Bush hate anti
environmentalists-Green Genocide misinformation
disinformation www.frontpagemagazine.com right wing
radical groupies, Joe Towers is not the best of a
reliable source. Why?
On Sept.28,2005 the GAO issued a report that stated
"if the barriers had been constructed. the flooding in
New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina would have been
worse" http://www.saveourwetlands.org/

http://www.saveourwetlands.org/

Investigations Into La. Lev... (Below threshold)
real facts:

Investigations Into La. Levee Breaks Mount

By BRETT MARTEL, Associated Press Writer Thu Nov 10,
9:27 PM ET

NEW ORLEANS - A federal prosecutor said Thursday he's
pursuing tips about corruption relating to the
building and maintenance of levees that broke during
Hurricane Katrina.
ADVERTISEMENT

Meanwhile, new evidence has surfaced suggesting steel
reinforcements driven into parts of the failed levee
system were not nearly as deep as the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers had thought.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said his office is focused on
the political and business relationships of those
involved in building the levees, not whether the
levees were poorly designed or improperly built.

"We're not in the business of trying to second-guess
if something could have been designed and built
better," Letten said. "Our investigation is looking
into whether there was illegal conduct, whether it be
diversion of funds ... that would have contributed to
poor execution of the work."

Letten refused to give names or discuss specifically
what officials or others were alleged to have done. He
said only that he had received "information that there
were individuals in positions of responsibility that
had conflicts of interest, and that's something we're
always interested in."

Letten declined to say whether he's investigating
federal or local officials. However, local agencies
handle most of the building and maintenance of levees.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is officially
responsible for design and construction, but sometimes
that means little more than reviewing plans and
inspecting work.

Design drawings show that steel pilings reinforcing
the levees should have been driven to a depth of 17
feet below sea level.

Preliminary findings by an investigative team,
however, suggest that didn't happen in the case of the
17th Street Canal levee, which sent floodwaters
through hundreds of homes and into the center of the
city when it broke.

The team, led by Louisiana State University civil
engineering professor Ivor van Heerden, found through
sonar tests that sheet pilings at the canal went to
only 10 feet below sea level.

Steve Spencer, chief engineer for Orleans Parish
levees, said his agency followed the plans under Corps
guidelines. He said he could not explain without
further investigation the discrepancy between the
17-foot depth in the designs and the 10-foot depth
found by van Heerden's team.

Independent engineers have said the levees wouldn't
have been strong enough even at 17 feet, because they
were built on loose, porous soil that is prone to
having water seep through it. To compensate, they
said, builders should have used stronger earthen
material and driven steel pilings far below the
18.5-foot depth of the canal bottom.

Corps engineer Fred Young declined to speculate about
the implications of van Heerden's findings.

"To me, the design drawing shows it should have been
at minus 17. I don't know what (the LSU team) is doing
and how they're getting minus 10," Young said. "We're
looking into it."

No one has been able to look at the sheet piling that
was torn out of the levee when it breached. Van
Heerden said he asked to see it but was told it was
buried under dirt at the construction site where the
levee is being repaired and could not be dug up right
away.

Several agencies are looking into possible wrongdoing
in regard to levee building and maintenance. State
Attorney General Charles Foti and Orleans Parish
District Attorney Eddie Jordan have said they're
conducting their own investigations.


Floodwall Anchors and Soil... (Below threshold)
girlpower:

Floodwall Anchors and Soil Gain New Focus as Suspects By CHRISTOPHER DREW AND JOHN SCHWARTZ (NYT) 656 words Published: October 27, 2005

A strong pattern is emerging to suggest that pockets of weak soil and shallow steel anchors helped cause the collapse of floodwalls that let water pour into the main parts of New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Katrina, according to engineers and newly available documents. The documents indicate that at the longest breach along the London Avenue Canal, the steel pilings anchoring the wall were driven to approximately the same depth as a band of soft peat soil, a situation nearly identical to what experts believe caused a collapse in the floodwall on the 17th Street Canal. At a second breach in the London Avenue wall, soil tests also show that the pilings were driven into a layer of fine, beachlike sand. Engineers investigating the levee failures say the similarities at the two canals lend further support to the theory that the pressure from the floodwater weakened the earthen berms holding the walls. Initially, government engineers said that surges from Hurricane Katrina had washed over the floodwalls on the canals, but experts now say there are no signs that this occurred. The Army Corps of Engineers has been trying to understand why these walls failed even as it rushes to make repairs before the next hurricane season. Several engineers examining the wall failures said they believe the dark, spongy peat soil in the earthen berms lost its strength once it became saturated with water. Joseph Wartman, who is on a team of engineers studying the levee failures for the American Society of Civil Engineers, said the sand, which lies under much of the levees on the London Avenue Canal, probably gave way through a phenomenon known as piping, in which the water drives through soil and erupts on the other side, weakening the structure it undercuts. In addition to anchoring the earthen levees and the concrete walls that rise above them, the sheets of steel piling are meant to stop water from seeping under the levees. But on both these canals, the engineers said, the pilings did not seem to extend far enough to keep the water from undermining the berms and touching off the collapses. In making temporary repairs, the corps is now driving new pilings from 50 to 65 feet below sea level, compared with the original depths of just 17 feet along the most of the 17th Street Canal and what appears to have been 16 feet at London Avenue. ''The question one asks is, Why didn't they set the pilings that deep the first time around, when they built these?'' said Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center in Baton Rouge. Corps officials say they are examining this and other possible reasons for the breaches and have not reached any conclusions. The documents, including the original soil tests and design memorandums prepared by engineering consultants to the corps in the 1980's, show that a 2,000-foot-long stretch of peat lies about 10 to 15 feet, and in spots 20 feet, under the 17th Street Canal levee. Soil charts show that the only peat deposit along the west bank of the London Avenue Canal lies below the section of wall where a 720-foot-long breach occurred. The soil then turns into loose sand that extends far below much of the levees on that canal. Some engineers said the sand could also have contributed to that breach. Mr. Wartman said an eruption of the sand, through the piping phenomenon, was likely to have caused a 425-foot-long breach on the east side of the London Avenue Canal. He said 10-foot-high mounds of sand spewed into nearby yards and buried cars as the levee was heaved out. ''It's remarkable,'' he said.




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