This site was created by Levees.org to draw attention to a highly misleading press release issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in June of 2007. The release appeared in association with the post-Katrina findings of the society’s External Review Panel (ERP) for the Corps-sponsored Interagency Performance Evaluation Taskforce (IPET).
The website offered two action items: (1) a poll for visitors to assess and vote on the usefulness of the website, and (2), a petition which visitors could sign if they agreed that the June 2007 press release was misleading, and therefore unethical by the standards of the ASCE.
The campaign was successful!
After a 13-month investigation, the ASCE’s internal probe, the Committee on Professional Conduct, found that the news release incorrectly “repeated estimates of deaths and property damage that might have occurred in New Orleans if levees and floodwalls hadn’t been breached.”
The death and damage estimates were taken from the IPET, but the assumptions in that report were not the same as cited in the news release, and a later correction did not sufficiently correct the issue, the engineering society said.
Tom Jackson, a New Orleans-based civil engineer, former ASCE president, and member of the External Review Panel told the New Orleans Times Picayune that he and other critics “were outraged by a June 15 news release suggesting that there still would have been widespread death and destruction even if there hadn’t been levee and floodwall failures during Katrina.”
“It was misleading,” said Jackson. “I don’t know if it was done intentionally or through ignorance, but it misled people …. and many people found it all to easy to believe that the corps and the ASCE were in cahoots.”
More about this site
This website was created in response to the intimidation of civil engineers by the US Army Corps of Engineers and by the ASCE.
A press release, available on this website, issued by the ASCE on June 1, 2007 contained language that indicated that the ASCE’s ability to be an impartial external monitor of the Corps’ activities is questionable.
The purpose of this site is to host a sign-on letter to facilitate members of the ASCE nationwide in signing a letter to the President of the ASCE demanding a formal retraction with accompanying press of the June 1 press release by the ASCE.
If you feel that making statements critical to the activities of the Corps of Engineers compromises your ability to participate in large civil works projects paid for by the US government, you are not alone.
If you sense that the ASCE has made statements that are erroneous and provided seemingly technical data that simply runs in the face of the facts of Katrina’s effects on south Louisiana, please consider signing this letter. Whenever errors are stated as facts, there can be no clear understanding of the simple truths about the failure of the federal levees that flooded New Orleans and south Louisiana.
The destruction of Louisiana’s wetlands from navigational projects and oil exploration left the state more vulnerable to storm surges than ever. The shoddy construction, careless maintenance and misguided polices that created the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO), the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW), and the Inner Harbor Navigational Canal (IHNC) should have addressed long ago by the Corps.
If you sense that permits issued for dredging the London Avenue and 17th Street Canals should not have been issued unless detailed engineering analyses using a reasonable and conservative set of geotechnical data was performed, the world needs to know. If you know that the switch to the “high level plan” should have prompted the Corps and Levee Boards to focus on raising all the flood protection to an appropriate height all around New Orleans, with suitable engineering effort, we need to spread the word.
Isn’t it high time that the construction inspectors in the “Construction Division” at the Corps are engineers with direct communication with the designers? Shouldn’t they respect the design engineers instead of holding the typical seething resentment of “those guys in the office.”
Now is the time to commit ourselves to hold the factual issues out for all to see for at least two more decades. If the issues are forgotten or swept under the rug, we are doomed to see the death and devastation repeated. If the scenario is repeated, the civil engineering profession will be held accountable because we are the ones that know, or should know, what happened.
June 1 Press Release
Under pressure from ASCE members in New Orleans, the ASCE has removed its June 1 press release from the ASCE website. However, for your convenience we have provided a copy. Click here to view the press release.
Click here for the ASCE June 1 report. You can order a copy or download a pdf.