Sen. Gobi files legislation aimed at addressing pyrrhotite issue

  • GOBI

Staff Report
Published: 2/22/2021 2:58:09 PM
Modified: 2/22/2021 2:58:06 PM

BOSTON — Sen. Anne M. Gobi (D-Spencer) has filed omnibus legislation aimed at addressing the crumbling foundation issue that has plagued homeowners in the south central part of the state, including homes in Charlton, Monson, Brimfield, Palmer, Longmeadow and elsewhere, whose home foundations are deteriorating due to the presence of pyrrhotite. The legislation comes in the wake of a report filed last year by the legislative Special Commission established to study the issue, and aims to address a number of the Commission’s recommendations. These include establishing tax abatements for affected homeowners, requiring the disclosure of foundation repairs for those looking to sell their home, and creating new standards for quarry operators and concrete producers.

Gobi, co-chair of the Special Commission last year, had this to say on the bill’s filing, “It is imperative that we take action to assist homeowners who, through no fault of their own, are faced with the devastating news that their homes foundation is failing. I appreciate the good work of the commission in focusing on areas that can bring relief and I look forward to continuing to work to get these provisions implemented.”

The defective concrete in question originated from the JJ Mottes Concrete Company in Stafford Springs, Connecticut during the years 1983-2015, and was sourced from Becker’s Quarry in Willington, Connecticut. Pyrrhotite is rare, and this location is one of the few in North America where the mineral may be found. Since the early 1980s, Becker’s Quarry was the primary source of the stone aggregate used by JJ Mottes to produce concrete, and they have been the only company identified that produced material connected to the deteriorating foundations.

Pyrrhotite causes the slow deterioration of the concrete when exposed to oxygen and water. When present in the aggregate material used to make concrete, the building material itself becomes compromised as water and air enter through small cracks and holes, allowing the iron sulfides to begin breaking down, expanding and allowing more water and air to enter. While the presence of pyrrhotite indicates the potential for concrete deterioration, its existence alone does not necessarily cause it. At this time there is no minimum level of pyrrhotite that is deemed acceptable for use, and homes with small amount of pyrrhotite (less than 0.3 percent) can still experience crumbling foundations.

The cracking starts small and may take more than 10 years to over 30 years to appear. As the concrete deteriorates it often becomes structurally unsound, and the damage is irreversible. The only permanent solution at this time to fully replace the impacted foundation with a new foundation that does not contain pyrrhotite.

In Massachusetts, the scope of this issue is still unknown, but the Special Commission did identify 95,073 homes built within the aforementioned time period that fit inside the distance parameters.

The bill filed by the Senator, SD. 1688, An Act Relative to Crumbling Concrete Foundations, aims to address a number of the primary concerns raised by the Special Commission last year. The main points aspects of the bill are outlined here:

<sbull value="sbull"><text xmlns="urn:schemas-teradp-com:gn4tera"></text></sbull>Establishes new standards for entities seeking a permit to mine or expand a quarry to include a test for pyrrhotite, and requiring that producers of concrete and aggregate products maintain a record of the aggregate source in their concrete batches

<sbull value="sbull"><text xmlns="urn:schemas-teradp-com:gn4tera"></text></sbull>Allows for affected homeowners to apply for residential property tax abatements with their board of assessors until the foundation is able to be repaired or replaced

<sbull value="sbull"><text xmlns="urn:schemas-teradp-com:gn4tera"></text></sbull>Waives all building permit fees for work associated with crumbling foundation replacement work

<sbull value="sbull"><text xmlns="urn:schemas-teradp-com:gn4tera"></text></sbull>Requires that homeowners looking to sell their home disclose to a potential purchaser whether they have had any testing or repairs done to their foundation

There remains in place a foundation testing program allowing residents to be reimbursed for the costs associated with visual and core testing, which Gobi was able to secure originally in the FY19 budget cycle. That program allows homeowners to be reimbursed at a rate of 100 percent for visual testing conducted by a licensed professional engineer up to $400, and a rate of 75 percent for core sample testing up to $5,000.

For more information, contact Sen. Gobi’s office by email at Anne.Gobi@MASenate.gov.


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