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New Orleans official: Workers ‘bailed’ amid water pump issue

December 4, 2018

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Two high-level New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board employees had “bailed” and were missing in action during issues that prompted a major boil water advisory, news outlets quote an official as saying during a City Council meeting.

Board Executive Director Ghassan Korban told council members Monday that the two managers did not communicate and were not responsive during a power outage last month. Ten people had been at the Carrollton Plant on Nov. 17, but the two were the only employees able to provide necessary approval to turn on a backup pump at the time.

Korban said both employees were immediately suspended without pay. The outage had caused water pressure to drop and the boil water advisory for the East Bank of Orleans Parish. The advisory had interrupted businesses and closed water fountains at the Smoothie King Center during a Pelicans game.

“They knew exactly what their jobs were, they knew how to do it and they opted not to do it,” Korban said. One of the supervisors has resigned and the other is suspended pending the completion of an investigation by the board, he said.

Korban said a vehicle struck a power pole outside the plant and hours later Entergy shut off power leading to one of the water pump stations. He said the power company had no protocol for notifying customers, including the board, which is its biggest, when it has to turn off power because of an accident.

Entergy spokeswoman Melonie Stewart said the utility has developed a new process to notify the board if it needs to kill the power during an unplanned event.

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