The Corps is proposing to use the fly ash as part of a lime slurry mixture for some kind of grouting to stabilize the levees according to the article. Environmentalists are concerned about the potential impacts of residual toxins in the fly ash. However, they are drawing comparisons to the TVA coal ash dam failure. From my perspective, this is an unfair comparison since this fly ash would be mixed with lime and in theory any toxins would be bound up in the grout matrix. But it never hurts to be cautious regarding potential contaminants that close to such an important waterway. [Source: bnd.com via ASCE SmartBrief]
That is the title of a Seattle Post-Intelligencer article on post-Katrina levee issues in New Orleans (by way of ASCE Smart Brief). I think the article is somewhat sensationalized, but they do cite some interesting parallels between the levee reconstruction efforts made after Katrina and the levee construction/reconstruction that occurred after Hurricane Betsy in 1965.
The article also discusses a recent US Army audit with some disturbing although not unexpected findings:
An initial September 2010 target to complete the $14.8 billion in post-Katrina work has slipped to mid-2011. Then last September, an Army audit found 84 percent of work behind schedule because of engineering complexities, environmental provisos and real estate transactions. The report added that costs would likely soar.
A more recent analysis shows the start of 84 of 156 projects was delayed – 15 of them by six months or more. Meanwhile, a critical analysis of what it would take to build even stronger protection – 500-year-type levees – was supposed to be done last December but remains unfinished.