Probing the Pumps


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Now that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been asked to conduct another investigation into the 40 hydraulic pumps built by Moving Waters Industries (MWI) and installed by the Corps of Engineers at three New Orleans canals in 2006, people might be wondering why these pumps aren't simply replaced. As Gambit Weekly reported in late March, the pumps that have been added since

the original 40 pumps are direct-drive, non-hydraulic, have a higher pumping capacity and are considered less inclined to fail.

If Gates decides to investigate, this will mark the third such probe into the hydraulic pumps and with good reason. As reported by the Corps' own engineer, Maria Garzino, who was in charge of quality assessment of 34 of these pumps at MWI's facilities in Florida in late April '06, the tests were changed so the pumps could "pass" and sometimes these tests were conducted literally in the dark because the testing facilities had suffered a major fire—during which there a man died—a week before the testing. Also reported in the March Gambit Weekly article was that MWI had another testing facility they could have used, but MWI didn't think it was necessary.

Not necessary to have a fully functioning-testing facility for pumps that more than a million New Orleans metro residents are depending on in the event that flood gates are closed?

Col. Jeffrey Bedey, director of the Corps' Hurricane Protection Office in New Orleans, has long maintained that the pumps would have moved water during the 2006 hurricane season. This flies in the face of the Garzino memo, which unequivocally stated: "will experience failure should they be tasked to run, under normal use, as would be required in the event of a hurricane." Normal use could be for as long as 24 hours, but those pumps have never been tested for that long.

If, as Bedey has said repeatedly, there isn't enough water in the canals to test the pumps for 24 hours in the canals, then where could they have fully tested these pumps? The answer: Back at the MWI testing facility. MWI has consistently maintained that the pumps worked when they sent them to the Corps in New Orleans, so why when the Corps added more pumps did they discontinue the arrangement with MWI and why are they using direct-drive, non-hydraulic pumps instead?

Kind of gets you wondering, doesn't it?


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