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Cracking Concrete Probe Continues

Monday, July 18, 2016

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One year after launching a probe into hundreds of cracking and crumbling residential concrete foundations, Connecticut officials say the concrete companies linked to the foundations did not intentionally use faulty concrete.

The State’s Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris told local media outlets Thursday (July 14) that investigative findings so far indicate that a claim under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act “does not appear possible.”

cracking concrete
©iStock.com / © Knud Nielson

Currently, 235 homeowners in 19 cities have filed complaints with the Department of Consumer Protection alleging “severe foundation cracking or crumbling.”

"The result is certainly disappointing for families who have made claims," Harris said in the statement. "At the same time, this result is not surprising given the framework of CUTPA, which requires that we prove a deceptive act or practice."

His statement comes in response to a letter written by Attorney General George Jepsen addressed to Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Harris dated July 7.

200+ Victims

That state’s official investigation into the issue began in July 2015. Currently, 235 homeowners in 19 cities have filed complaints with the Department of Consumer Protection alleging “severe foundation cracking or crumbling.”

Many of the failing foundations were poured between the early 1980s and 1998.

Victims are looking for help to fix the problem, which can cost $200,000 to repair. Many are disappointed in Harris’ announcement.

“This is as unfair as it gets, and it’s very disappointing,” Willington homeowner Tim Heim told the Hartford Courant.

Pyrrhotite Problem

Jepsen’s letter follows initial scientific testing that showed high levels of the mineral pyrrhotite in stone aggregate used to produce the concrete was partly to blame for the deteriorating residential foundations. Pyrrhotite is a naturally occurring iron sulfide mineral that reacts with oxygen and deteriorates over time, reports relate, citing research.

Governor Dannel Malloy
Official Photo

In July 2015, Governor Dannel P. Malloy called on the Department of Consumer Protection and the Office of the Attorney General to conduct an investigation into deteriorating foundations.

The failing foundations had been linked to one quarry, linked to J.J. Mottes and Co. and related contractors.

‘Insufficient Evidence’

Jepsen said in his recent letter that the state lacked evidence that the concrete company J.J. Mottes and Co. knew pyrrhotite was in the concrete, originating from the quarry in Willington.

"We have insufficient evidence to support a finding that either Mottes or the others in the concrete production or home construction industries had specific awareness of the deterioration risks associated with pyrrhotite at the time they provided concrete aggregate for the now crumbling foundations," Jepsen wrote.

Thus, Jepsen warned the officials against relying on CUTPA as the solution to the problem.

“Government officials and others should not place unrealistic hopes that consumer protection law promises the likelihood of significant remedies, and they should instead focus their attention without delay on identifying and pursuing more effective potential avenues for broad-based assistance," Jepsen wrote.

The state’s investigation continues and is expected to conclude in the fall, according to officials.

Similar Case

A similar situation involving pyrrhotite in concrete recently surfaced in Quebec.

The province is spending $30 million over three years to help homeowners whose properties are affected by the problem mineral. Officials estimate up to 4,000 homes throughout Quebec are affected.

“I saw with my very own eyes the difficult situation in which too many families live because of pyrrhotite,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in April.

“This mineral destroys foundations and causes serious problems in the structures of houses.”

   

Tagged categories: Building materials; concrete; Concrete repair; Cracks; Repair materials; Residential Construction

Comment from Dick Piper, (7/18/2016, 11:00 AM)

Sue the bastards!


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