ROCKY HILL, CT — While goods news has been hard to come by for eastern Connecticut homeowners with crumbling foundations, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Wednesday that he hasn’t given up on finding a solution.
A state investigation found that the mineral pyrrhotite used in a concrete aggregate to pour the foundations is the source of the problem. However, it’s still unknown how many homes may be crumbling as a result of this mineral.
Capitol Region Council of Governments study released in September found that as many as 19,121 homes in 24 towns could be plagued with deteriorating foundations that were poured between the 1980s and 2011.
Homeowners have been hesitant to come forward because the problem means their home is worthless and many don’t have the $150,000 to $200,000 it would take to replace the foundation. Repairing it is not an option.
Malloy told a group of small town officials Wednesday that he’s working on coming up with a program to test homes. He said once the scope of the problem is known then the state can try again to get help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Connecticut’s original FEMA request was denied by the agency in November.
Malloy asked the agency in October to establish an office to conduct a preliminary damage assessment of 34,130 at-risk homes. He said the issue is “potentially catastrophic,” and “could easily cost anywhere between $100 million and $1 billion to fully remediate.”
FEMA Administrator William Fugate replied in November that “while the mineral and chemical reactions may be naturally occurring, the mixing of concrete and the placing of these foundations are manmade events and do not constitute a natural catastrophe” under the terms of the Stafford Act.
“As such, neither preliminary damage assessments nor Stafford Act assistance are appropriate to address this situation,” Fugate said.
Officials from Stafford Springs-based J.J. Mottes Co. and Willington-based Becker Construction Co. have repeatedly said the foundations were not properly poured and the presence of pyrrhotite is not to blame for the problem.
“The minimum amount of pyrrhotite needed to trigger deterioration is not yet known,” according to the Department of Consumer Protection. “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.”
A DCP investigation concluded that no Connecticut consumer protection laws were violated.
Malloy said he believes the federal government needs to play a bigger role.
“The foundations have a problem because of a naturally recurring event,” Malloy said. “How is that naturally recurring event any different than a tornado or a hurricane or something else?”
The governor said the federal government has been dismissive because it doesn’t believe the problem involves a large number of homes. The governor disagrees.
He said he’s willing to put state money into a testing program to demonstrate the scope of the problem Connecticut faces.
“I will come forward with a testing program,” Malloy vowed Wednesday.