Two St. Bernard drainage pumps out of service

Paul Murphy talks about why twp pumps in St. Bernard Parish are corroding.

NEW ORLEANS -- Two St. Bernard Parish pumping stations in the Chalmette area are currently out of service.

Much of south Louisiana is below sea level.

It takes a network of pumps to drain rain water during severe storms, like the one that moved through the New Orleans area on Friday.

The two pumps that are are out of service are among the handful of pumps rebuilt by the Army Corps of Engineers after Hurricane Katrina nearly 12 years ago.

Civil and structural engineer H.J. Bosworth, a researcher for the storm protection advocacy group levees.org said the Army Corps used the wrong materials to retrofit the pumps.

"The cooling coils, the piping, the connections, the components, they used carbon steel in many circumstances when it was extremely unwise, the carbon steel is rusting, Bosworth said.

Bosworth added the Corps should have used stainless steel or cast iron parts.

"The carbon steel rusts away if it's in the water," Bosworth. "Stainless steel won't, it may corrode a little bit, but it won't corrode to failure."

The problem with the pumps was first reported by blogger Matt McBride and his website "Fix The Pumps."

Rene Poche, a spokesman for Corps says they are aware of the pump failures and signed off on a remediation plan.

"In this particular case, we received a request for technical assistance from the local levee district," Poche said. "They asked us to review their proposal to remediate, repair and replace these parts, we reviewed it an approved it."

The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East is now paying $600,000 to $800,000 price tag to fix the pumps.

Friday, the Army Corps said it would consider a request for reimbursement.

"Let's get them up and running and doing what they're supposed to do," Poche said. "We haven't received a request for reimbursement. We'll address that if the issue comes up."

Flood Authority CAO Derek Boese released this statement:

"The Flood Protection Authority's priority will always be to proactively protect the lives and property of its' constituents. We will continue to work with all stakeholders, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and St. Bernard Parish officials, to resolve all issues and challenges in order to maintain the drainage pumps in St. Bernard.

The Flood Protection Authority mission is to ensure the physical and operational integrity of the regional flood risk management system in southeastern Louisiana as a defense against floods and storm surge from hurricanes."

The levee district is hoping to have everything repaired sometime in June. That's right at the start of hurricane season.

Pumps two and three in St. Bernard, now out of service are primarily used during the heaviest of rains.

 

© 2017 WWL-TV


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