January 3, 2017

DCP: Deteriorating foundations must show evidence of mineral

The mineral pyrrhotite, thought to be a contributor to a rash of deteriorating foundations across the state, must be present to make the concrete deteriorate, although the exact amount has not yet been determined, according to a report delivered Dec. 31 to state legislators.

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection released the report Tuesday of its investigation into deteriorating foundations in northeastern Connecticut. Complaints received by DCP include homes with foundations poured between 1983 and 2010.

"The deterioration of concrete foundations is caused … at least in part, by a naturally existing mineral present in the concrete mix used to pour the foundations," the report states.

That mineral is pyrrhotite.

Working with the Office of the Attorney General, DCP focused on whether or not the state could assert a Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) claim against any party related to deteriorating foundations, and found it could not. In July of 2016, the OAG issued a letter to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the DCP indicating the low likelihood of a successful CUTPA claim.

Becker's Quarry, the main source of concrete aggregate for JJ Mottes, includes more than trace amounts of pyrrhotite, and is located on a vein of rock that contains significant amounts of pyrrhotite.

JJ Mottes and Becker's Quarry entered into a voluntary pact with the state in which they agreed not to use concrete from the quarry for residential purposes until July of 2017.

"DCP remains committed to providing our expertise and any information from our investigation we can disclose to elected officials, other government officials, and members of the private sector working together to seek remedies for homeowners," said Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris.

The investigation included a scientific study in which a concrete expert from the University of Connecticut was retained to study core samples from affected homes. DCP also conducted approximately 70 site visits to potentially affected homes, and numerous interviews as part of the probe.

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