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Corps: Tests Find 1 Faulty Pump In New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ One of 34 drainage pumps under investigation for possibly being faulty when they were installed before the start of last year's hurricane season had a minor problem during a test Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers said.

Col. Jeffrey Bedey, the corps commander overseeing levee reconstruction, said that the problem forced the pump to be shut down, but that it would be fixed promptly.

``We'll have a crane out here tomorrow to take a look at it. I equate it to an alternator going out on a car. You don't replace the car, you replace the alternator,'' Bedey said. ``Something will go down from time to time; this is a mechanical system.''

The Corps conducted tests on five pumps at the Orleans Avenue Canal, the last batch of the heavy duty hydraulic pumps the corps has prepared for the start of this hurricane season June 1. The rest of the pumps on three drainage canals are ready for action, Bedey said.

Thursday's tests were the latest in a string of test runs the corps has set up to assure citizens rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina that the pumps will work.

The pumps were rushed into operation before the start of the 2006 hurricane season. The previous year, Katrina inundated 80 percent of the city after its flood protection system failed.

A May 2006 memo by a corps mechanical engineer, provided to The Associated Press this year, warned that the pumps were faulty and would not work if needed to remove water during a hurricane.

The Government Accountability Office opened an investigation after the memo surfaced. Last week, the GAO said it found no evidence of fraud or improper influence in the project, according to Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who was briefed by the GAO.

The Corps has insisted the pumps would have worked, but last year's unexpectedly mild hurricane season never tested them. A draft of the GAO report said it was uncertain how well or how long the pumps would have worked if a hurricane had struck, Landrieu's office said.
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