AN EXPERT engineer has described the causative link between pyrite and the cracking of affected homes in Clare as “abundantly clear, categoric and incontrovertible”.
Simon Beale and Associates sent a detailed report on behalf of Clare County Council to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH), last month.
The documentation, seen by The Champion runs to over 1,000 pages. It was compiled on foot of queries raised in December by the DHLGH over the original report submitted last July to make the case for Clare’s inclusion on the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme.
In his latest report, Mr Beale noted the the Department had “requested that Clare County Council demonstrate the link between the building damage and defective concrete blockwork by showing clear evidence of oxidation of pyrite to form other minerals, the presence of secondary minerals and gypsum production”.
As part of the process of responding to the DHLGH, five homes owned by Clare County Council, located in Kilfenora, Ennis and Sixmilebridge, were core tested for pyrite. Mr Beale notes that the level of analysis went over and above the established protocol for assessing damage caused by defective concrete blocks.
His report states that “additional testing outside the normal scope of testing under IS465:2018+A1:2020 was completed”.
In total, analysis for ten homes – five of which are privately owned and had been tested for the original, July 2021 report – was provided to the DHLGH. In each case, it was concluded that: “The blockwork in the dwelling contains aggregate which contains COMMON FRAMBOIDAL PYRITE [sic] which is highly susceptible to deterioration from sulphide degradation/pyrite oxidation.
The blocks have been classified by Petrolab as having a HIGH RISK [sic]. The IS465:2018+A1:2020 Registered Chartered Engineer, in association with the Professional Geologist, have assessed and eliminated all other potential causes for the cracking and damage in the blockwork of the sampled building. It is caused by Defective Concrete Blockwork used in the construction of the buildings [sic].”
Deputy Cathal Crowe told members of the Clare Pyrite Group last week that, “These reports are currently lodged with the Dept. of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and I am confident that they prove, beyond any doubt, that there is pyrite in Clare homes and that we need a fit-for-purpose redress scheme to be in place for you all in the quickest possible time”.
Officials at the DHLGH are currently drafting legislation to underpin a revised grant scheme for homes with defective concrete blocks. It is widely hoped that the new scheme will cover Clare and other affected counties. However, a bid by the government to fast-track the legislation is a cause of concern to the CAPG and other action groups. Campaigners want a process of pre-legislative scrutiny to ensure their concerns over the eligibility threshold for the new scheme, and other issues, can be aired in advance. Opposition parties, including Sinn Féin, have indicated they are likely to propose amendments to the legislation.