Skip to comments.Studies confirm New Orleans levees' flaws
Posted on 12/01/2005 1:53:48 PM PST by caryatid
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Government engineers performing sonar tests at the site of a major levee failure confirmed that steel reinforcements barely went more than half as deep as they were supposed to, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official said Wednesday.
"We've come up with similar results" to those from earlier tests performed by Louisiana State University engineers, said Walter Baumy, the Corps' chief engineer for the New Orleans District.
Baumy said the Corps intends to pull out pieces of the remaining wall along each edge of the breach at the 17th Street Canal to verify the sonar test results. The canal itself is now mostly dry at the breach site, with temporary walls holding back water from each side.
Baumy said the Corps cannot explain the disparity between what its 1993 design documents show was supposed to be there and what they've found.
The documents indicated that the steel reinforcements in the levee, known as sheet piling, went to a depth of 17.5 feet below sea level. Sonar tests indicated the pilings went only to 10 feet below sea level, meaning the flood wall would have been much weaker than intended.
The LSU team is working on a report for the state that will say there were serious, fundamental design and construction flaws at both the 17th Street and London Avenue canals. Both broke during Hurricane Katrina, flooding much of the city.
The team's leader, Ivor van Heerden, said Wednesday that the levee design ensured failure under the type of water pressure exerted by Katrina's storm surge.
The team's computer modeling showed that the designs failed to account for loose, porous soils such as sand and peat that were prone to allowing water to seep from the canal through to the dry side of the levee.
Much deeper steel pilings driven well below the canal bottoms likely would have stopped seepage to the dry side, engineers have said. The bottom tip of the pilings, at 10 feet below sea level, did not reach the canal bottoms.
But LSU computer models showed that even if the pilings had gone to 17.5 feet below sea level at 17th Street as design documents said they should have, they still would have failed.
Engineering studies prior to construction of the flood wall were performed by Eustis Engineering, Modjeski and Masters Inc. and the Corps. Members of the LSU team have expressed shock that all three could have missed what they characterized as fundamental flaws.
Calls to Eustis and Modjeski and Masters were not returned Wednesday. Van Heerden said the federal government bears ultimate responsibility.
© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
* Louisiana / Faulty Levees/Floodwalls PING *
Bush/Cheney (at the expense of Halliburton) went to the levee site during construction and hypnotized the workers to only put the steel posts in half way.
Bush/Cheney only wanted to kill black voters - Louis Farrakhan was right!
No, it's all FEMA's fault!
Wait...It's Global Warming!!!
No...it's Crab People....
It's actually the Fault of the NOLA Levee Board.. but no fault should be placed at the local level, especially with a Republican President in office :/
Follow the money!!
Steel in NO is like concrete in New York.
Won't take much digging (no pun intended) to find out who did what. Driving the steel shallower requires less steel. Less steel means there's more money left over to pay off the levee and other NO politicians demanding kickbacks.
Oh my gosh. Can it be the levee folks are as corrupt and inept at the Mayor, the Governor, the school district, the police department, etc etc? Say it ain't so.
Get a burn permit for the parts that are below sea level and get it over with. It was a (human) swamp before the flood, just let it return to being a regular swamp.
"The federal government bears ultimate responsibility". Hmmmm, let's see. 1993. Dem in the White House. Dem control of both houses. Oh he must mean the CURRENT government.
Head for the hills! Lawyer stampede sighted, southbound!
I'm glad the studies confirmed it. I wouldn't want to think that we had that disaster for nothing, and that the levees were completely sound.
The data must be pretty solidly demonstrable for the reviewers to come out so solidly against the geotechnical firm that did the soils investigation and recommendations and the engineering firm that reviewed and used that data to develop the design approach. Usually, if there is any way the data isn't crystal clear a forensic engineer will temper their comments.
That all being said, it is beyond comprehension that the contractor drove pilling to this shallow depth. I've done piling like this 50 foot away from a river basin and driven it over 50' just to hold back a little static water.
I've also done millions of dollars of work for the COE and they don't let people cut corners from what is on the documents. The two things combined (design errors and construction not-in-place) are almost beyond belief.
My thoughts exactly, RWA ... and why I am glad that I do not own stock in one of those companies! This is bound to be right up the alley of one of the Class Action lawyers.
If correct, this article goes way beyond the politicans ... and would appear to implicate the two named engineering firms.
...I'm willing to bet that the combined depth of the pockets of the levee board members is oh, right around 7.5 feet.
I do not have an engineering background ... but, I, too was stunned ... as this would appear to go way beyond corruption and shoddy business practices.
Do you think this means Cheney and Bush didn't really dynamite the levees after all??
KC Burke wrote:
"I've also done millions of dollars of work for the COE and they don't let people cut corners from what is
on the documents. The two things combined (design errors and construction not-in-place) are almost
When the first sonar results came out, there were also reports that at least two different periods of construction took place after the ortiginal structure was built under Corps supervision.
Neither of these projects was under Corps control or supervision, and I believe that at least one of them was under Sewer and Water Board control.
The Sewer and Water Board was also the agency that received reports of water standing in people's backyards near the 17th Street breach well prior to Katrina and never reported it to the Corps.
I think this report is a deliberate attempt to cloud the waters, make the CoE bear part of the blame when the lawsuits start racking up. Like you, I know my way around engineer types, and am willing to bet that the Corps CYA documents can be measured in tons gross weight.
In any event, the official Senate investigation is in good hands, and their report will have much greater effect on the outcome of class action malicious negligence suits than any deliberate smear job by the media and a few pocketed professors.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.