The White House and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) once again find themselves on the defensive regarding the reconstruction efforts in the Gulf of Mexico following Hurricane Katrina. This time, a Louisiana panel appointed to monitor rebuilding efforts in New Orleans and a team of engineers on a National Science Foundation-funded inspection, have criticized the federal government about the quality of materials being used to reconstruct the levees around New Orleans.

The groups’ findings-in which they claim substandard soil is being used and shortcuts in reconstruction are being taken-were first published in The Washington Post on March 6. Both the Corps and White House have denied the groups’ claims, stating that the monitors have been testing the wrong soil. The Corps is trucking in soil from Mississippi to rebuild the levees because the local soil does not meet quality standards.

"We are using the right kind of materials," Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, head of the Corps, told The Washington Post. "There is no question about that. …If we were going to have another Katrina-like event, I think I can say with a high level of confidence you wouldn’t see the catastrophic flooding that we saw in the first event."