Parts of a privately built border wall in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley could fail, according to an engineering report released this week.
Jeremy Schwartz of the ProPublica/Texas Tribune investigative team told Texas Standard that the report was commissioned by the National Butterfly Center as part of its lawsuit against Fisher Sand and Gravel. The construction company took on the wall project after the nonprofit We Build the Wall raised $1.5 million in donations, which it then gave to Fisher for wall construction. But We Build the Wall is embroiled in controversy after four people involved with the organization, including former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, were indicted on fraud charges for allegedly taking millions in money raised by the charity for themselves.
The National Butterfly Center first sued Fisher Sand and Gravel to try to stop the project until more environmental assessments could be made. Now, with the engineering report, it could be evidence in court that the border wall is unfit. The three-mile stretch of wall is built directly on the banks of the Rio Grande, Schwartz said.
“[That] is unlike the rest of the border wall in the Rio Grande Valley, which is put back on levees,” he said.
The wall is also different because it’s built on private land with private donations – not public money.
“It’s an effort to both show off Fisher’s skills and abilities and the ability of private industry to help Trump finish his border wall goals,” Schwartz said.
But now the wall is at risk of eroding during a flood because of its location and shallow foundation. It could topple into the Rio Grande. Besides possible environmental consequences, Schwartz said a possible failing could be bad for business for Fisher. The federal government has awarded the company about $2 billion in contracts to build new, publicly funded stretches of wall.
“A showcase piece of theirs falling could potentially lead to issues with those contracts,” Schwartz said.
ProPublica reported that the Butterfly Center’s next hearing in federal court is later this month. The same judge previously ruled in favor Fisher going ahead with the wall project.