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Judge chides Army Corps of Engineers over 'tragically flawed' levees that failed in Katrina

A federal judge has rejected claims that excavation work by an Army Corps of Engineers contractor weakened a New Orleans floodwall and caused it to breach in two places during Hurricane Katrina.

But U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. said in a ruling Friday the floodwall was a "disaster waiting to happen" and chided the corps for building a "tragically flawed" levee system that failed to protect tens of thousands of residents.

The judge ruled that he can't hold the corps or its contractor, Washington Group International Inc., responsible for the 2005 failure of a floodwall meant to protect the city's Lower 9th Ward and neighboring St. Bernard Parish.

Duval presided over a trial last year for homeowners' claims against the corps and Washington Group International.