Skip to comments.Mess on the Mississippi
Posted on 09/02/2005 10:37:00 AM PDT by topher
Damage to Coastal Marshes May Mean Lasting Problems For Nation's Vital River.
As state and federal officials grapple with massive human toll wrought by one of the most powerful hurricanes to ravage the US coastline, evidence mounted that the storm also damaged the critical Mississippi River shipping corridor south of New Orleans as weell as the remote towns and ecologically sensitive marches that surround it.
Photographs and first-hand accounts from helicopter pilots, boat captains and engineers working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicate that the main channel of the river remains intact. But the surrounding nub of land around the last 20 miles of the rivers, known colloquially as the "crow's foot," was decimated by the storm.
The pass, normally dredged to be about 45 feet deep, is the conduit for more than 6,000 ocean-going vessels ayear headed to the vast complex of docks, shipping terminals, grain-loading facilities and petroleum-processing plants that line the banks of the Mississippi between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La.
The massive shipping hub, one of the busiest in the world, is key to the flow of commerce-imported petroleum, export grain and a vast array of other types of cargo from burrber to make tires to steel for construction and chemicals. ...
[Other article talks of coffee and grain shipments will be impacted as well -- Gulf, River Shippers Scamble -- with different authors]
(Excerpt) Read more at wsj.com ...
Of significant important, in my opinion, is the need to do something like The Netherlands. They are actually reclaiming land from the North Sea. Specifically, building a barrier wall 60 foot high wall to protect the coastal areas and prevent storm surge. It is possible, and with the oil and natural gas flowing into Louisiana, this could and should be funded somehow.
Man has tampered with the Mississippi delta area by building levees -- preventing mud from sloshing into the coastal marshes to rebuild sentiment deposits.
By doing somethings similar as the Netherlands, the coastal areas would retain sentiments and sand.
Ecologically, if done correctly, it would be a boon to the environment as well as man.
And I feel 60 foot high wall just offshore with openings that could be closed for storms would be sufficient to deflect the energy, storm surge, and waves of the hurricane. Water could leak around such a wall, but the storm surge would be reduced significantly, in my opinion.
A bold idea, but so was building hundreds of miles of 20 foot to 30 foot levee down most of the length of the Mississippi.
headline sounds like something Jon Stewart might adopt...
Time to come up with ideas for the future instead of complaining about the present and the past...
Good post but your use of 'sentiments' instead of sediments just cracked me up.
Photographs show very little left of some parts of the Mississippi River delta.
We probably need some comic relief considering what looters on crack or withdrawing are doing in the New Orleans area...
I hope the author meant marshes instead of marches.
In todays world, there's little difference in the two words.
Your suggestion is well intended but would not work in the long run because there is a far more difficult problem involved than mere hurricanes and storm surges: the high ground in New Orleans and elsewhere in the Louisiana delta is subsiding. In New Orleans, the rate of subsidence is an inch a year, which would put all of the city below sea level within about eight or nine decades, with subsidence continuing even after that. Eventually, the cost of pumping, maintenance, and risk of levee breach would become unbearable. Perhaps there is an affordable solution other than relocation, but my layman's understanding is that the geology of the delta region is against it.
I wouldn't do that. Instead I would do away with all the levees and build a new city similar to Venice. A series of large man-made islands joined by bridges etc. This would allow the river to return the silt back to the delta and stabilize the area by halting the subsidence.
The Netherlands recalims land from the sea because it is a small country with nowhere else to get additional land.
Louisian is a large state with a population of less than 5 million people. There is natural high ground west of NOLA that sits between the Mississippi and the Atchafalaya.
I think the Dutch would be the first to say building higher levees around the current location of NOLA makes no sense when so much higher ground already exists nearby.
Question: If you write off the Mississippi River as a major means of commerce, what of those cities up river from NOLA? Should not this closing down or cutback of the commerce on the river adversely affect towns such as St. Louis, Keokuk and Cape Girardeau? Would this not necessarily create a domino effect?
Re-read the post. There is no reason to write it off. The main channel is intact for ocean going ships. The lower river has already been re-opened to barge traffic. The docks upstream from New Orleans are probably in good shape; even the ones on the West Bank can probably be put back into service fairly quickly. The railroads are inspecting bridges and roadbeds, and should be back in operation except for the flooded areas fairly soon.
Last I saw was that the LOOP hadn't found any major problems and was pressure testing the pipelines to make sure that there were no hidden problems.
And pretty near every ag/chem/petro/misc. terminal or power plant on the Mississippi, Missour and Ohio rivers (and tributaries thereof)? Damn straight it would. I realize that people who don't live on the river don't think much about it as a commerce artery, but it is there, it is big, and it is part of so many things that there isn't even a question about making sure it is put back to normal.
My thoughts exactly. Just so's ya know . . .I live in St. Louis and see the barge traffic daily. And you are right, people who don't live along the rivers really don't understand what an impact it has economically and commerce-wise.
If there is any industry that has experience in rapidly putting the pieces back together after their property is trashed by nature, that is the one. Railroads can be obtuse as hell about a lot of things, but their track and structure employes are generally people who know what they are about.
Greetings from Upper Mississippi Pool 11 (or 10, depending on what side of the dam you are standing on)! We get a kick out of people who were born and raised right here, but who don't know what a towboat does, what can be in the barges, where everything goes from here, or how it all makes a difference in their lives.
Ignorance by choice, perhaps? :-}
In the meantime, we can await this to occur.
Mark Twain was talking about cutoffs and such when he made the observation that in "the space of one hundred and seventy-six years, the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles." Based on that degree of reduction, he then estimated that in seven hundred and forty-two years, the river would be a mile and three-quarters long.
His calculations were poor, but his instinct was sound.
The petrochemical industry is pretty good at recovery, although their problems generally aren't caused by nature. I'm figuring that they should be able to get plants back on line about as quickly after this as they do after an explosion. I think a lot of folks are going to be surprised on how quickly some of the refineries come back on line. The biggest delay at some won't be in the damage repair, but in assembling and housing workers.
The port and related industry can be brought onstream rather quickly. It is the city that will be the problem.
Clearly, the choke point in the recovery will be workers and their housing.
Buy quonset hut futures...
Venice, Louisiana near the mouth, or Venice, Italy. Both have canals.
Some of the refineries may be underwater. Maybe that should have no effect on bringing them online -- once the water recedes. I know the buildest hurdle is electrical power for refineries. I don't see why they don't build a small electrical generator facility onsite, and just pump diesel into the generator.
One of the refineries near Baton Rouge had trouble getting back online because the power grid was down.
I don't see why they don't produce their own electricity since they probably have diesel storage tanks at most refineries.
But I really don't know...
The WSJ other article on that page, Gulf, River Shippers Scramble has the following:
The port of New Orlenas remains closed to ocean shipping, awaiting assessment of damages caused by Hurricane Katrina. If the river or surrounding ports are unusable for months, problems like Mr. Snider's could be reported a million fold at companies across the country.
Survey crews for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration yesterday began surveying lowere Mississippi ship channels for obstructions, focusing on the southernmost 20 miles or so. Officials worry about the condition of the channel below the water's surface because aerial surveys show shrimp boats crushed together and numerous barges and vessels washed up on levees along the sides of the channel. Surveying was to resume today.
... end of excerpt of article ...
I am not saying the channel is open or not, but this article claims the use of some of the ports may be months away. Maybe it is only days.
But the real problem is that this is grain harvesting time, and normally the grain flows down the river by barge traffic. Maybe the grain can be offloading upstream and sent by railroad car to other major ports. But this particular article talks about the problem of rerouting the commerce -- Mr. Snider is a banana importer, and now must reroute his distribution system from Freeport, TX to the Midwest. (That means new routes for the trucks.)
So I am not certain with what this 2nd article says that the Mississippi River is open for business -- even if ships go to Baton Rouge for loading/offloading...
The Venice on the Adriatic.
Agreed. Even if the channel is intact, it is likely that bouys and markers will have to be re-set, and other work done before the first ocean going ships move through. I do recall reading a story that barge traffic was able to move on the river.
I just saw this on another thread:
"and a White House statement that half the lost refinery production shut by the storm would be back on line within two weeks."
With the Platation pipeline back up, and the Colonial pipeline at 705 (up to 86% by the end of the weekend), and Shell announcing a major platform is back on line, things should ease rapidly.
I figure a couple of the refineries are going to need a lot of work, and a couple of more a moderate amount - about the equivilent of a turnaround.
So much for the Wall Street Journal and speculation that the river might be closed for months!
As long it is open for business... And the grain can be shipped out.