Trial begins over role of Katrina barge

June 22, 2010 at 2:38 PM

NEW ORLEANS, June 22 (UPI) -- A federal judge heard arguments on whether a loose barge broke a flood wall and caused deadly flooding in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, observers say.

Residents of the city's 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish have brought a lawsuit against the company in charge of mooring the barge, alleging it behaved irresponsibly in neglecting to take steps to secure the empty barge properly at a dock as the 2005 hurricane approached, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Tuesday.

Attorneys for the residents told U.S. District Judge Standwood Duval they would present testimony on the barge breaking through the canal flood wall.

Lawyers for the company, Lafarge North America Inc., responded by arguing it is "scientifically impossible" for the barge to have caused the flood wall breach.

They also said in court documents even if the canal had not been breached, flooding within hours from the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet would have inundated the Lower 9th Ward.

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