Army Corps of Engineers Report: New Orleans Pumps still have mechanical flaws; also found contract improprieties


OK that banner wasn’t really there at the -building trust is top priority- press conference of General Van Antwerp, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But it may as well have been. Read on…

Beginning with what Oyster says for the overview…

In a blockbuster post,
Matt McBride outlines his initial impressions about the Army Corps of
Engineers’ internal investigation on the floodgate pumps. In short, New
Orleanians are at risk because the pumps haven’t been fixed properly.
Please read the whole thing; it’s mega-important.

Then on to the post by Matt at Fix the Pumps for details. First he states…”The report is stunning in its breadth and depth. Things are way worse than I knew. […] The amount of crap this investigation uncovered is breathtaking.” Matt then details what is wrong with the pumps among other things. There is this regarding what has been known…

Colonel Bedey, Jim St. Germain, and Dan Bradley have been lying to us
in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, all of the media (local and
national), and the entire nation for a year, right up to and including
Bedey’s assurances during General Van Antwerp’s “Truth & Honesty”
tour last Thursday. There is a critical fix (as in, the pumps could
fail without it) that needs to be applied to the drive units. The New
Orleans Corps has known about it and has not performed that fix since
June of 2006! I don’t see how these men can keep their jobs.

And this regarding the pump contract…

The contract administration has been a travesty – perhaps even
criminal – and there appears to have been an active effort to cover
that up. MWI was writing change orders – including prices – and the
Corps was sending them back to MWI with a bow on them. Duplicate
payments have been made to MWI. There appears to be no written
justification for most of the payments. There appear to be millions of
dollars unaccounted for.

In an update Matt gives a timeline of how this story has been managed or as Matt says how the Corps “played possum with the release of this report.” Here are parts of that timeline from Matt…

May 11:The report itself was done

May 25:The national media started arriving in New Orleans to start putting together stories for the start of hurricane season.

May 29-31: General Van Antwerp visited New Orleans and had a big,
whoop-te-doo, “We’re going to tell the truth, no matter what” press
conference at the 17th Street floodgates on May 31. Every news
organization in town was there.

June 1: Hurricane season started. National media starts heading home.

Thursday, June 7: After repeated inquiries all week, only local
reporters are emailed the report. Many public officials are not given a
copy. The reporters are told not to report on it until after 2 PM
Friday – a so-called “embargo.”

Friday, June 8: Early in the morning, public officials at all levels of government receive the report, but not from the Corps. […] far from the 17th Street canal and its photogenic backgrounds […] in a conference room at the Corps’ building on Leake Avenue, the Corps
holds an invitation-only round table to release the report. […]Six reporters are in the room. They represent the AP, the Baton Rouge
Advocate, WWL-TV, Fox 8 (TV), the Times-Picayune, and an engineering
magazine. No reporters, other than from the AP, represent national

Yesterday Senator Landrieu requested a Justice Department investigation

“I respectfully request that the United States Department of Justice
conduct a full investigation into the charges of misconduct in the
contract administration between the Corps of Engineers and Moving Water

Somehow I’m not hopeful of Gonzales doing the right thing.

This story is just not going away, as much as elements of ACE would like it too. It shouldn’t. If the pumps fail, New Orleans floods.Yet as with too many NOLA stories it is not being heard.

If you have a blog please consider posting on it.

One final note: Matt at Fix the Pumps has worked tirelessly on tracking what has been happening with the NOLA pumps. He has filed numerous FOIA’s to get information which he has posted to his blog along with analysis. It was Matt who provided the ACE memo to the Associated Press which broke the story on the defective pumps.

13 thoughts on “Army Corps of Engineers Report: New Orleans Pumps still have mechanical flaws; also found contract improprieties

  1. I can also offer the geek perspective that Matt’s analysis appears to be way more science than emotion. This (engineering and mil-spec land) is only tangentially my world – but friends/coleagues who live in this world don’t disagree with him.

  2. Absolutely lb0313. I don’t even try to pull out the science and engineering analysis he has there. One has to go and read that

  3. I’ll of course blog about it and if you do have a blog, write about it too. Pick which juicy element of corruption you want to focus on but if we do, nobody will.
    I talked to Loki about how to talk about this and one thing is for all us blogger to help the press notice this.

  4. Scout–
    Are these the old pumps, or the one’s that Jeb!’s buddies suppied? or both?
    I’m posting this at my place, and at for you.

  5. Thank you, Scout!
    I’ve got posts up at both blogs, now, with a request for a Blogswarm on the issue. There is SO MUCH packed into your post, and Matt’s, and Oyster’s, it’s pretty difficult to just tease out the full gist, so, I shotgunned the issue, and I hope it represents the reality well-enough. Please correct me if I’ve missed the issue(s).
    Damned fine work by all of you.

  6. IIRC–
    Weren’t these MWI pumps purchased under a no-bid contract, whist the Germans offered their own super-engineered pumps, and were turned away?

  7. mf–I don’t know anything about the Germans. There were 3 bidders on the contract and MWI got it so no it wasn’t no-bid.

  8. Why does Sen Landrieu “respectfully request” anything? The republicans have, pardon my Arcadian, fucked New Orleans in part to get HER replaced by Jindal, right, and she’s so god damned stupid she can’t figure that out, and start making demands and making a stink?
    They have played her for a fool and a incompetent Louisiana elitist, and she hasn’t really let them down on that portrayal, at least from what I’ve seen and heard.
    Better Democrats, puhleeeeeeze.

  9. Hi Scout,
    on your saying that it wasn’t no-bid, you may want to eleaborate on how the specs were rigged for MWI (that is, do you want to give the impression that the bids were a legitimate action?).
    And please explain to me – whether from neglect, design, or incompetence the levees failed. Even without the cloud of questions over the failure (and lack of confidence with the people), it would be paramount for the Corps to not get caught lacking again. Folks can understand one error, but not the lack of ability to learn from their error. And for sure the corps doesn’t want to get caught the same way again.
    A little kid caught with his hands in the cookie jar understands this enough to back away frm the jar.
    What am I missing here?

  10. New Orleans not safer, not safe, notsaved

    Scout Prime has details.
    Hat-tip Ellroon and Monkeyfister.
    Related posts:
    What if al Qaeda blew up the levees would New Orleans have been safer that way?
    Save this city.

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