CT News Junkie | State: Contractors Have Agreed to Stop Selling Concrete Aggregate from Willington Quarry

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State: Contractors Have Agreed to Stop Selling Concrete Aggregate from Willington Quarry

by | May 11, 2016 9:30am
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Posted to: Business, Consumer Protection, Courts, The Economy, Town News, Public Safety

As state officials continue to investigate deteriorating home foundations in eastern Connecticut, the companies at the center of the controversy have voluntarily agreed to stop selling certain products for residential use until next year.

The agreement with Stafford Springs-based J.J. Mottes Co. and Willington-based Becker Construction Co. was announced Monday by Attorney General George Jepsen and Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris.

The companies have agreed to stop selling materials or products that contain aggregate from Becker’s Willington quarry for use in residential concrete foundations statewide until June 2017. Aggregate is crushed stone, sand, or gravel that is used in making concrete.

More than 200 homeowners in eastern Connecticut have complained of crumbling foundations, all of which were poured by J.J. Mottes in the early 1980s through late 1990s. The state is continuing to investigate.

Under the agreement, Becker will notify its customers that it voluntarily is not selling aggregate from the quarry and will post notices at its business locations, according to state officials.

“My office and DCP have dedicated significant resources to this investigation, and we are moving as quickly as we responsibly can to complete our work,” Jepsen said in a statement.

He said he expects the investigation to continue into the fall, but “there is now sufficient evidence” that high levels of the mineral pyrrhotite in aggregate used in certain homes is a “substantial contributing factor to the crumbling foundations experienced by some homeowners in eastern Connecticut.”

More work will be done to understand the full range of contributing factors, he said.

“Nevertheless, 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. “At that time, we anticipate being better able to assess any legal remedies that the state may have to address this problem and that lawmakers will have additional information on which to determine if public policy changes are warranted in the next legislative session.”

The companies voluntarily agreed to suspend sales of the products in question “as a good faith measure and with the goal of finding answers homeowners deserve,” John Patton, spokesman for the Joseph J. Mottes Co., said in a statement.

“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, the Tofolowsky decision of 2003 — 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.

At this point, the state has not found any legal violations by any party, state officials said. But under the agreement, the state reserves the right to assert any legal claims it might have against the company after the period covered by the agreement expires.

So far, the DCP has received 220 complaints about deteriorating foundations in the eastern part of the state.

“We know the urgency of this issue for so many homeowners in eastern Connecticut, and are confident that the investigation will continue to produce the results we need to get the outcomes homeowners are looking for,” Harris said in a statement. “This agreement with Joseph J. Mottes and Becker Construction Co. will be just one of many steps forward we hope to make.”

The agreement applies only to use of products in residential foundation construction, but Jepsen and Harris are urging commercial and public project managers to carefully scrutinize the quality of concrete products used in their projects. The state’s investigation has not found evidence of failures of commercial or public building foundations, according to state officials.

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