Sleeping S&WB workers contributed to November boil advisory

S&WB employees asleep during outage

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - There are new developments surrounding November’s massive outage that left New Orleans’ entire east bank under a boil water advisory.

The Sewerage and Water Board said two employees fell asleep on the job, contributing to the problem.

The Nov. 17 advisory came after the water-pumping equipment's power was knocked out, causing pressure to fall sharply. The two employees had overnight shifts, and both have resigned from the utility.

Under my administration, we take our jobs seriously and what we do is our top priority. So sleeping is not something that we do and something that I don’t support, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said.

Previously, the City Council held a meeting to ask S&WB leaders exactly what happened that led to the boil advisory. Utility leaders pointed to a break in communication with Entergy, saying they failed to notify them that power was lost to the pumps.

"When the thing went off, did they freak out and say this is too much for me to handle and then run out? Were they sick in the bathroom? Where were they?" Councilman Jay Banks asked.

"They did not freak out. They opted to not be engaged," S&WB Executive Director Ghassan Korban replied.

It has since been disclosed that both workers fell asleep, and Sewerage and Water Board leaders say because the employees were not able to be reached, they lost precious time in making repairs and avoiding the loss in pressure.

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