Contractor stuffed NOLA area floodwall with newspaper



“That should be criminal,”€ Taffaro [St. Bernard parish president] continues.

What he’s talking about was witnessed by a St. Bernard Parish resident
who didn’t want to be identified, but did have sharp criticism of the
work done by a contractor hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“€œIt’s like putting a Band-Aid on the hole of a gas tank of an airplane,”€ the resident said.

Instead of an airplane, it’s a floodwall, and instead of a Band-Aid,
the witness says two years ago, he saw the contractor filling the
expansion joint or opening between the floodwalls with newspaper.

“The whole length of the wall was stuffed with newspaper.”

And when he confronted the contractor, the contractor blamed Washington for the substandard work.

“€œHe basically told me when Congress sent down the money, it would be repaired the proper way.€”

But during a recent trip to the area, two years later, it was apparent
that didn’t happen. Much of the newspaper had deteriorated or been eaten by bugs, but some still remained. In fact WWL cameras even captured the date May 21, 2006, on a page of the Parade magazine from
the Times-Picayune.


Engineers tellEyewitness News
an expansion joint has three lines of defense. The first is an elastic
strip that helps keep water out. In the middle is the most important
part, a waterstop, which is in fact included in the St. Bernard
floodwall. However what is missing is a rubber joint that goes in
between and helps keep foreign objects out. 

The witness who talked toEyewitness News
says the contractor used the newspaper in place of the rubber joint.
Kulkarni [an engineer] says it’s not a short term risk, but over time that missing
rubber joint could weaken that waterstop.

€œ”It could be very serious,” Kulkarni said. “€œIt doesn’t take a lot of
stress to cause the failure of these floodwalls. We don’t know after
two or three years how the main joint will perform. This is the first
line of defense.€”

And what did ACE say?

But the Army
Corps of Engineers says it is confident the floodwall will sufficiently
defend residents of St. Bernard and the Ninth Ward.

“€œIf you look at the repairs we made to the joints, there’s not really a
safety issue with the joints at all,”€ said Kevin Wagner with the Army
Corps of Engineers.

The Corps
also says it’€™s satisfied with the quality of work done by its
contractor. When asked by WWL if there was any shoddy work involved,
Wagner said, €œ”I don’t think so at all.€”

Sweet Jeebus

(For more and video of the…paper levees)

13 thoughts on “Contractor stuffed NOLA area floodwall with newspaper

  1. The Army Corps of Engineers sucks.
    The ‘Army’ part of the title shields them from so much justifiable criticism it’s disgusting. Only 2% or 650 of the roughly 36,250 ACoE employees are in the military. ACoE is a giant contracting pyramid that combines the worst aspects of military procurement with the worst aspects of pork spending, wraps it in a bow, and calls it world class engineering. Congress should strip out the tiny military component (that only serves as a fig leaf) and come up with a COMPETENT national infrastructure agency that includes waterways and levees. The CDC, NIH and NOAA all have respected world class technical expertise. Why does ACoE suck a duck?
    If there was the Army Corps of Enron with Gen. Ken Lay going out with a chest full of stars to explain why everything was actually fine and dandy most people would have just shrugged at the loss of billions and accepted it. The difference is incompetent Ken Lay didn’t get anybody killed at Enron and the incompetent tiny number of military managers at ACoE and their shell contractors ARE getting people killed with their slipshod work and laissez faire attitude.

  2. OK, the repubs like the free market. So dumb question: what do the insurance companies say about the newspaper stuffing?
    Also, let’s not forget that NOLA is one of the suspected entry points of the formosan termites (a particularly hungry bunch of insects).
    And what happens to newspaper when it gets wet?

  3. They don’t seem to have any problem with forcing people to move out…so let’s just force relocate the ACE brass behind their own floodwall. That ought to set some hair on fire.

  4. I’m sure some landsharks have already started looking at this, but is this enough to show criminal negligence?
    I can see the courtroom now. Lawyer asks for a tub of water; lawyer drops a newspaper in said tub…

  5. ahrm hrm, i suddenly feel a fit of tourette’s coming on… ahrm… ccchhhh**VIOLENTREVOLUTION**cccchhh ahrm hrm hrm…
    rrrrrrrrr**BRINGBACKTHEGUILLOTINE**rrrrrrrrrr…cough cough…
    it’s okay, i’m fine, it’ll pass…i’ll take an extra pill today…

  6. For those of us who grew up in Lousiana, this sort of contractor “quality of service” is an old story.
    Is isn’t TL James, is it?

  7. Make a Difference
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    Take a minute or two and go to the web site and read up.
    Do you see anyone else pressuring the COE?

  8. If the people of NOLA don’t like how my tax money is spent then maybe they should move to higher ground.
    It’s not the governments job to protect people from stupidity If you live in a hole it will fill up when it rains The federal gov. should have said we will help rebuild NOLA 20 miles back and If you don’t like it your on your own, The insurance co. should do the same
    I live in Texas and the City says no building permits for flood zones
    Problem solved

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