DCP and Attorney General: Foundation Are Failing Because Of Pyrrhotite Other Factors Possible.
“Although [the] investigation will continue into the fall, we believe there is now sufficient evidence to conclude that significant levels of the mineral Pyrrhotite in stone aggregate used in the production of concrete is a substantial contributing factor to the crumbling foundations,” state Attorney General George Jepsen said in a written statement. The early finding was announced Monday afternoon in a news release from Jepsen and the state Department of Consumer Protection.
In addition, the agencies said they reached an agreement with J.J. Mottes Co. of Stafford Springs to discontinue using or selling aggregate from Becker’s Quarry in Willington for residential foundations until June 30, 2017. The agreement also applies to Becker’s Construction, another business in the family. Mottes’ concrete has been cited in lawsuits filed by homeowners with faulty foundations. The agreement does not apply to commercial foundations.
“Because the aggregate produced by Becker’s Quarry and the concrete made from it may contain Pyrrhotite in significant levels, caution dictates that concrete products and ingredients from these companies be removed from the residential construction market until our investigation is complete,” Jepsen said.
DCP Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris said Pyrrhotite is a “common denominator” in their investigation. Pyrrhotite is a naturally occurring iron sulfide mineral that reacts with oxygen and deteriorates over time.
The mineral was also cited in a widespread problem in Quebec as the mineral that produces cracks in concrete. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told The Canadian Press that “the mineral destroys foundations and causes serious problems in the structures of houses.”
The state said that it would continue searching for other factors that might have contributed to the foundation problems and that no finding of legal violations had been made to this point.
“We have the responsibility to determine whether there is a responsibility by any party under the Unfair Trade Practices Act … we’ll be looking at potential solutions that can be used by the policymakers to determine what options homeowners might have,” Harris said.
Stone aggregate is crushed stone, sand and/or gravel that when mixed with cement, water and occasionally other additives, makes concrete.
John Patton, Mottes company spokesman, said Monday that the agreement to temporarily stop using Becker’s Quarry was “a good-faith measure and with the goal of finding answers homeowners deserve.”
“We continue to believe this is an issue of improper installation and not materials — findings which were proven in our only Connecticut court case involving a failed foundation … and we have always cooperated with the state and will continue to do so in the hope of finding sustainable and meaningful solutions for the homeowners and future homeowners,” Patton said in a written statement.
Harris said the suspension of activity at the Mottes and Becker businesses will give the state time to find solutions for homeowners and conclude the investigation.
“It covers this construction season and a good chunk of the next construction season, and it also allows the long legislative session to occur that could be needed to legislate, change the laws and find solutions,” Harris said. “We’ll develop a menu of options that homeowners can utilize to try and solve their problem, to cover as many cents on the dollar as possible.”
On April 26, Mottes announced it was leasing its equipment to Farmington Ready Mix LLC for the 2016 building season because adverse publicity made in financially difficult for the company to continue operations.
Last July, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy assembled a task force of employees from the Department of Consumer Protection and attorney general’s office to investigate the problem and find solutions for homeowners. Since then, 220 complaints have been filed by homeowners claiming their foundations are failing due to faulty concrete.
Tim Heim, one of the homeowners with a failing foundation and president of the Connecticut Coalition for Crumbling Basements, said he is satisfied with the first round of results.