by Eric Dunbar
The Army Corp of Engineers’ Industrial Canal Expansion Project is threatening a community that has struggled to regain its footing. After years of struggles and hardship following the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Lower 9th Ward is a once again flourishing community. Residents of the Lower 9 are undoubtedly among the most resilient people anywhere. Their spirit of hospitality is unmatched even in the City of New Orleans. No matter what the day looks like, in the Lower 9 you can always hear a pleasant “Good morning” and “How y’all doing this morning?”
A Community Voice (ACV) has made me aware that the residents of the Lower 9 are under attack once more, this time by the Army Corp of Engineers who seem to be determined to expand the Industrial Canal. The truth is 9th Ward residents have always opposed the expansion of the Industrial Canal because there are no community benefits from this project. If we allow this project to continue, residents will be forced to contend with many devastating consequences. That is why I am siding with ACommunityVoice.org in taking a stand against the Industrial Cabal Expansion Project.
As a resident/homeowner of the Lower 9th Ward, I urge all concerned residents of both the Upper and Lower 9th Ward to vote against the expansion of the Industrial Canal. If you would like to learn more about the Industrial Canal Expansion, there will be a meeting for concerned residents on Thursday, March 30, 2017, at St. Mary of the Angels, 3501 N. Miro Street, New Orleans, LA at 6 pm. Also, there will be a March Against Canal Expansion on Saturday, April 29, 2017. Residents will meet at St. Claude Avenue and Forstall Street in the Lower 9th Ward at 10 am.
Here’s what you should know about the Industrial Canal Expansion Project:
- The Industrial Canal Expansion Project primarily benefits Trump fundraiser Boysie Bollinger’s shipyards on the Industrial Canal and was re-prioritized for that payoff.
- The Industrial Canal Expansion Project is a waste of nearly one billion in taxpayer dollars that we have already paid for government services and not for the proposed subsidies to the chemical/oil/gas industry. Reparations should be paid to the families in the 9th ward, who lost or had damage to lives and their homes due to neglect by the Corps.
- The existing barge traffic is dangerous and needs to be moved to a location with reduced residential population. Move the Industrial Canal to a safer, unpopulated location.
- The damaging effects of pile-driving on historic residential homes cannot be under-estimated, particularly since redress to the usual channels in the courts is removed by the immunity of the Corps from litigation. The noise will cause additional stress on community residents, from senior citizens to babies who will be hurt by this project. The dust and construction debris and intrusions are further health issues that will hurt the population. Property values will plummet. Making the 9th Ward an Industrial work area with toxins coming through daily is wrong and racist.
- Another dubious and dangerous part of the proposal is a “temporary canal” that would be dug on the eastern side of the original canal that will endanger especially the lower 9th Ward. It turns out that they plan to keep this 2nd canal and turn the lower 9th Ward into an Industrial toxic dump. Again, there’s no problem for the Corps, since they have immunity, and now, a track record for us all to see. Flooding the lower 9th Ward is part of that legacy and this project must be stopped for all of these reasons.
- The plan, to disturb the heavy metals and contaminants in the canal and to send them to local landfills is basically against all known and legal procedures for disposal of hazardous material. Why these toxins have to be pumped into the wetland based New Orleans landfills is outrageous and antithetical to common sense. Further, people in the community use the canal for fishing, boating, and recreation. We don’t need to be exposed to these toxins.
- The threat to the community will be increased during hurricane seasons in by the actual construction process that will impede traffic flow over the canal.
- Who are you asking us to trust with no accountability mechanisms at all to a local population, and that it has already extremely victimized with its independent decisions that can’t be challenged in court? It was its own original plan to assist the chemical/oil/gas industry by building a basically unnecessary Mississippi River Gulf Outlet that created a superhighway for Hurricane Katrina. That single court case was allowed by the Judge due to the fact that the Army Corps of Engineers dreamed up a brand new project MRGO, one that didn’t have to do with existing canals and levees. It has been ruled by the court system, and by their own admission, as the primary reason for the flooding of New Orleans. Further their poorly designed and executed levee system failed and killed thousands of innocent people, who were not even warned about the impending failure of the levees, even though the Army Corps of Engineers knew well in advance of the storm that the levees would fail, and did nothing to prevent the horror of the end of those lives. They further traumatized an entire population that didn’t immediately die and never apologized to anyone.
- This project is “old school” in a world that is rapidly changing, including with new delivery systems that utilize drones. Furthermore, scientists encourage us to conserve and shrink, which electric cars and bullet trains are some examples, not this Corps project.
- Ironically, and you can’t make this up, the Corps cites their own incompetence at the selection of non-union contracts that have failed to properly repair and maintain the canal, as to why the traffic on the canal is so slow. These higher maintenance problems should not be born on the backs of the 9th ward. The GAO needs to evaluate this situation and get it under control instead of blowing up the neighborhoods with this unfeasible plan. The Industrial Canal needs to be moved to a truly industrial area.
- The remnants to be spent, of the original $56 million on “mitigation” is another bogus carrot to hang before the community as if there is any purchase that would restore to the community the losses from this hugely dangerous and damaging This should be spent on reparations to the community.
The Industrial Canal Project will:
- Take 13 years to complete
- have no community benefits
- relocate families
Copy the Petition to take to your church, school or workplace. Industrial canal expansion petition
To: Louisiana Elected Officials and the Army Corps of Engineers, Mark H. Lahare
Fr: A Community Voice, a membership-based, nonprofit in New Orleans, LA, with over 3,000 membership families in the 9th ward.