LSU hurricane expert is fired


Exactly one day after held a press conference denouncing the muzzling of hurricane experts who speak out on the metro New Orleans flood, Ivor van Heerden, frequent critic of the US government, was given the ax.

Van Heerden, the brave coastal scientist who led the state’s independent Team Louisiana investigation into the levee failures during Katrina, has been given notice by Louisiana State University that he will be terminated as a research professor in one year.

Van Heerden believes he was let go because LSU is concerned that his frank talk with the media has and continues to hurt LSU’s chances of getting federal dollars.

At’s press conference this week we denounced the silencing of experts.

We cited the case of Gorden Boutwell, a highly respected local geotechnical engineer who served on two levee investigation teams post Katrina.  In June 2007, he wrote to me that he was ashamed for his society (American Society of Civil Engineers) because it was understating the Corps of Engineers’ role in the catastrophic levee failures.  However, he forbade me from publishing his remarks because a member of the Army Corps of Engineers had approached him and told him that if he spoke out critically of the Corps, that his engineering company would be destroyed.

Gorden Boutwell died in September 2008. I brought his letter to the media – an important letter that I had held back nearly 2 years – because I believe that is what Mr. Boutwell wanted me to do.

The threat to Mr. Boutwell, like that to van Heerden was verbal.  There is no smoking gun.

And that makes it hard to show conclusive proof that the federal government silences those who speak out.  It’s hard to quantify the extent of the muzzling of experts who are critical of the Corps of Engineers or other federal agencies.

But Gorden Boutwell a crusty, outspoken engineer was afraid.

And now, van Heerden, a fine scientist is fired.

These are two more reasons to demand the 8/29 Investigation Act, a truly independent bipartisan analysis of the flood protection failures in metro New Orleans.

Click here to write your members of Congress.

To find out about what you can do, go to


~ by vermilionaire on April 16, 2009.

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