From the LA Times
NEW ORLEANS — A wide range of design and construction defects in levees around New Orleans raise serious doubts that the system can withstand the pounding of another hurricane the size of Katrina, even after $3.1 billion in repairs are completed, a team of independent investigators led by UC Berkeley’s civil engineering school said Sunday.
The findings undermine assurances by the Bush administration and the Army Corps of Engineers that the federal levee repair program due to be completed in June will provide a higher level of protection to New Orleans, which sustained 1,293 [editorial sigh] deaths and more than $100 billion in property loss from Katrina.
The team’s 600-page report disputed most of the corps’ preliminary findings about what caused the levee breaches, saying the investigators had made critical errors in their analysis.
The mistakes raise concerns about whether the corps is competent to oversee public safety projects across the nation, said Raymond Seed, a UC Berkeley civil engineering professor who led the investigation, which the National Science Foundation sponsored shortly after Katrina struck.
“People think this is a New Orleans problem,” Seed said. “It is a national issue.”
“The rest of the system is unproven,” Seed said. “The entire system needs a serious reevaluation and study.”
The levees system must be reevaluated. Additionally the Army Corps of Engineers itself needs a serious evaluation. That has been known for some time but it’s yet to happen. That is because, as Michael Grunwald of WaPo points out in an excellent article, the Corps is the pork barrel “addiction” of Congress. At least Feingold and McCain have introduced a Corps reform bill which is a start but even that is going nowhere. Congress (past and present) has flown under the Katrina Shame & Blame Radar for some time now. Enough is enough. It’s time the Corps AND Congress were held accountable!
UPDATE: Welcome Firedoglake readers!