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CBP Report: Trump’s border wall prototypes breached during testing

September 21, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
CBP Report: Trump’s border wall prototypes breached during testing

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Initial inspections of President Trump’s border wall models revealed that the structures neglect to meet the “non-penetrable” standards, a government indicated. Study teams managed to breach the wall and in at least one instance, made the prototype unstable.

A recently published report from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) explained that the proposed border walls could fail based on the prototypes that have been developed, according to to NBC San Diego. The government report discussed the inspection of the $20 million Otay Mesa barrier prototype design.

Although the report included heavy redactions to protect testing methods, it also noted that in at least one case, the testing found that one of the mock-ups was unstable to the point that officials worried about a collapse.

“The (redacted) technique was rescheduled to be last since it had the potential to impact the structural integrity of the mock-up,” the report said.

Testers used mock-ups of the actual border wall prototypes. After the first mock-up failed, the technique used in the inspection was delayed on the other mock-ups until the last step of the testing process.

“It wasn’t intended, but when they ran this test, they must have realized it was causing major damage to the mock-ups,” Robert K. Dowell, associate professor of structural engineering at San Diego State University said to KPBS in an interview. “They put it at the end because they thought it was going to collapse.”

CBP spokesperson Ralph DeSio told Guerrero that the models “were not and cannot be designed to be indestructible.” Rather, he noted, they are made to “impede or deny efforts to scale, breach, or dig under such a barrier, giving agents time to respond.”

The report does not discuss how the walls would work against tunneling. An anti-tunneling methodology is one of the requirements of the design, the article added. The report also explained that the prototypes failed to prove that they could be “easily modified” to react to varying landscapes and terrains.

Perhaps most important, Guerrero’s research could not determine the effectiveness of the prototypes against scaling.

“The prototypes were tested for how well they resisted climbing.” the KPBS journalist stated. “That was too redacted to conclude.”

A report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published this summer warned that the wall project could be more expensive than anticipated because CBP assessments neglected to account for “costs associated with deploying the barrier in each location,” Guerrero said. The report also states that those costs could change because of the topography, land ownership, and other factors not taken into consideration.

According to Guerrero, the mock-ups used for breaching inspections consisted only of the bottom 10-feet of each prototype. Scaling tests were carried out on 30-foot prototypes.

Professor Dowell said that it was bizarre that the testing would be carried out on the smaller mock-ups. He emphasized that the taller the wall, the higher the likelihood of failure.

Testing of the border wall prototypes and mock-ups were executed beyond the view of outsiders to deter human smugglers from gaining intelligence information about how to best get around the barriers.

CBP reports indicate the older the technology is, the more likely breaches are going to happen.

Over the past five years, the existing fence was breached by smugglers over 9,000 times.

The cost of repairs to the current barriers was more than $1 billion over the past twenty years — at least some of that amount was due to the breaches.

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