Research paper: pyrrhotite in concrete aggregate

Pyrrhotite in Concrete Aggregate

Izelman Oliveira and others at the University Politecnica de Cataluna, Barcelona have published a paper on the oxidation of pyrrhotite in concrete aggregate in Spain. The authors report that the nature of pyrrhotite (in bands) creates planes of weakness that act as preferential paths for oxygen ingress.

The paper, titled “Evolution of pyrrhotite oxidation in aggregates for concrete” follows prior research by Oliveira et al., (2012): Olveira, I., Cavalara, S.H.P., and Aguado, A. (2012). New Unreacted-Core Model to Predict Pyrrhotite Oxidation in Concrete Dams. Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering. 25 (3), 372-381.… Read the rest

JEC vs. IAL pyrite case referred to European Court

JEC vs. IAL Pyrite Case

The Irish Times reported yesterday that the legal case brought against Irish Asphalt Ltd by James Elliot Construction  (JEC vs. IAL) for the supply of defective infill has been referred to the European Court of Justice for “determination of issues including the merchantable quality of goods”.


The summary below includes extracts from the Irish Times article.

  • JEC are suing IAL with respect to aggregate supplied for use in construction of the Ballymun Central Youth Facility (BCYF)
  • The BCYF underwent a €1.55m remediation project, required as a result of floor and wall cracking due to pyrite heave
  • A scientific paper on the pyrite heave problems at BCYF by Hawkins and Stevens (2013) can be found by clicking here
High Court
  • JEC brought legal action for compensation against IAL, claiming pyrite heave as the cause of damage
  • The High Court found the aggregate was not fit for purpose or of merchantable quality, and had caused pyrite heave
  • IAL appealed the decision to the Supreme Court and claimed it was not liable to JEC
Supreme Court
  • The Supreme Court found that IAL’s appeal should be dismissed, subject to any issue of European law
  • The Supreme Court therefore referred the case to the European Court of Justice
  • The Supreme Court upheld the finding that there was a breach of legislation in terms of merchantability under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980
  • The Supreme Court stated that it had set aside the High Court finding in relation to material suitability for purpose under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980
  • The Supreme Court reject IALs contention that liability to JEC was limited to the cost of infill replacement

The Supreme Court upheld the High Court view that the sulfur content of the infill did not meet the required standard and should not be overturned

Notes on EU law (from irish Times)

“In light of Irish Asphalt Ltd’s contention the High Court conclusions were inconsistent with and precluded by EU law, it had been decided to refer a number of questions on the case to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling or reasoned order.

Read the rest

Video Feature: Irish pyrite problem videos

Irish pyrite Problem Videos

The following collection of Irish pyrite problem videos provides a good introduction to the issues in the Dublin area of Ireland. Please leave a comment or email if you have any comments or suggestions for additional videos.

 Introduction to pyrite and the associated engineering problems:

Introduction to pyrite and the associated engineering problems (with particular relevance to housing): 

Pyrite damage and remediation:

Damage attributed to possible pyrite in Dublin (first of five short videos):

Introduction to the Irish Standard IS 398-1:

Introduction to the Irish Standard IS 398-2:

Important Note

I am not responsible for the content of these videos (hosted externally on YouTube) and cannot guarantee their accuracy.… Read the rest

Interview #1: Pyrite Action Group

pyrite action interview

The following is from a recent interview (July 2014) with the chairpersons of the Pyrite Action group. Since around 2011, Pyrite Action has worked relentlessly to represent homeowner’s affected by pyrite problems in Ireland and seek Government intervention. The group should be congratulated on their dedication and progress.

I hope that the interview below, which seeks to understand more about Irish pyrite problems from the perspective of those directly affected, will provide an insight into the campaign and the reality of living with pyrite. In particular it serves as a reminder to industry experts just how devastating the problem is.… Read the rest

Where to bury 38,000 m3 of pyritic rock?

PenDOtt Route 2001 project

State Route 2001 is a 35 km road in Pike County, Pennsylvania, which is undergoing considerable improvements. The Pocono Record (08.03.14) reported that the next major phase of the improvement (Lehman Township) was due to start in March this year but was delayed due to the identification of pyritic rock along the route alignment. Quoting from the article:

“Bore samples taken two years ago for this project did not initially reveal a pyrite problem, but recent borings did show it in various places along the entire project area, which runs from where the last phase ended at Little Egypt Road to Oakridge Road.”

Dealing with the pyritic rock

According to the Pocono Record (08.03.14), engineers from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) are now attempting to determine how much pyrite is present and how to mitigate the problem.… Read the rest

Geoscientist mag: Gypsum dissolution hazards

Gypsum Dissolution hazards

This month’s issue of Geoscientist, the magazine of the Geological Society of London features another potential problem resulting from sulfur-species in geological materials – gypsum dissolution.

In the article, titled “A hole lot of trouble” Andy Farrant and Tony Cooper discuss the problems of rock dissolution and the formation of subsidence features such as sinkholes. One of these soluble minerals is gypsum, of which there are significant Triassic and Permian deposits in the UK. The authors provide an excellent national-scale map of soluble rocks in England, Wales and Scotland. A quote from the article:

“Caves in gypsum or halite are the exception.

Read the rest

Pyrite problems at Dublin Zoo?

Cracks being investigated at Dublin Zoo

The Herald yesterday (10.07.14) reported that Dublin Zoo had brought in engineers to investigate the cause of cracking noticed some months ago in an office building and restaurant area. However, results were not yet available to confirm the cause of the problem. According to the Herald:

“…monitoring equipment had been placed across a series of the cracks to see if they are widening over time or if they have stabilised.”

Could it be pyrite?

Whilst the results are not yet available, a Google search for “pyrite Dublin zoo” brought up the record of Mr.Read the rest

Pyrrhotite judgement: SNC-Lavalin to appeal

pyrrhotite Judgement

Despite pleas from Coalition of Victims of Pyrrhotite (CVAP) in Canada, SNC-Lavalin (the main defendant in the recent pyrrhotite trial) have stated that they will appeal the pyrrhotite judgement, Le Nouvelliste reported yesterday (10.07.14).

In the Superior Court judgement, SNC-Lavalin along with their geologist Alain Blanchette, had been found responsible for 70 % of the pyrrhotite problem. Le Nouvelliste reports that the CVAP spokesman, Yvon Boivin, was “bitterly disappointed” by the decision to appeal, but was continuing with plans to promote the boycotting of SNC-Lavalin. Disappointment was also expressed at the news on the CVAP Facebook page.Read the rest

Concrete blocks and pyrite: update

Pyrite In Concrete Blocks at Moneymore, Drogheda, Co. Louth

The Irish Independent reports that demolition has started for six houses in Moneymore, following discovery of pyrite damage to the concrete blocks. 19 other homes in the scheme have been tested for pyrite but a decision on their fate has not yet been announced.

Seaview Park, Shankill, Dublin

RTE reports that four houses are undergoing demolition in Shankill due to pyrite in the blockwork.

pyrite remediation scheme

Meanwhile, the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, has been asked to extend the Pyrite Remediation Scheme to cover pyrite damage to building blocks.… Read the rest

Canadian pyrrhotite problem: verdict delivered

The Canadian pyrrhotite problem

In the early 2000s around 30 homes suffered pyrrhotite problems in the Trois Rivieres area of Quebec, relating to aggregates from a small quarry that only operated for a short time (Maher, 2013). New problems came to light in the late 2000s, with around 1700 residential buildings now suspected of having pyrrhotite problems.  A major legal case relating to the more recent events has concluded and the judge has delivered the verdict.

Canadian pyrrhotite problem historical summary

A summary of the events related to pyrrhotite in Canada can be found here.… Read the rest