Army Corp of Engineers recommends standards for pyrrhotite in concrete aggregate

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The US Army Corp of Engineers recommends the state set testing standards for quarries so the mineral responsible for causing the crumbling foundation crisis does not find its way into future homes.

Governor Dannel Malloy asked the US Army Corp of Engineers to submit a report that provides recommendations on “technical standards, quality control and remediation of pyrrhotite-affected households and structures”. The state also asked for information to help develop a path for to help affected homeowners.

The team of engineers recommended rejecting any aggregate that contains for than .1% of sulfur. They said anything less than .1% could be accepted. It’s the same standard set in Europe, but no standards have been set yet in Connecticut or the United States.

The group also recommended how to best test the mineral, to be sure there is an accurate and consistent measure of data.

Related Content: Website helps homeowners with crumbling foundations determine financial assistance eligibility

Geological surveys show the mineral is found in a Willington quarry used by a now-defunct Stafford Springs-based concrete company at the center of the crisis.

Scientific analysis finds that over time, air and water cause pyrrhotite to oxidize, causing severe spider cracking. Once the cracking starts, there is no known way to stop it. It forces homeowners to lift the house up and replace concrete walls and floors. The job could cost into the hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket because insurance companies deny the claims.

Senator Richard Blumenthal says the report is appreciated, but the priority must be on fixing homes.

“The standards and national measurements are fine but we still need dollars and cents for the homeowners,” said Blumenthal. “Immediate reimbursement either from the federal government or the insurance agencies which still have not done right by the homeowners.”

The owners of the concrete company at the center of the crisis also owns the quarry. Their representatives have said in the past that it’s not pyrrhotite from their quarry, but faulty installation that is causing the concrete to deteriorate.

This report, along with the conclusions of a state civil investigation released in 2016, contradict those assessments.

“I think the US Army Corp of Engineers believes the presence of this substance, at the levels that are apparent is the problem which can be made substantially worse by other factors,” said Gov. Dannel Malloy following a private meeting with the team of engineers. “No one would want to go out and buy concrete, particularly for homes, with the presence of the substance.”

This report offers only recommendations. Any standards must be set through the legislature.

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