25 Investigates: Homeowners with failing foundations plea for help

BOSTON — A legislative committee heard testimony Tuesday from Massachusetts residents with failing foundations.

The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture is considering legislation that would reimburse homeowners who have foundations that test positive for pyrrhotite.

Pyrrhotite is a mineral that ended up in certain batches of concrete aggregate.   It is considered a geohazard because over time – typically 15 to 20 years - it begins to expand and break apart.

So far, it has been detected in nearly 2,000 homes in central Massachusetts towns along the Connecticut border, as far east as Holden and Grafton.

Rutland homeowner Joann Demore told the committee she learned she had pyrrhotite in her foundation when she recently tried to sell her home.  “The cost to fix it is about $200,000.  Even though it’s very early stages there’s no doubt it will crumble.”

“I see houses going up all around me and they could possibly still have this… so I’m just asking you to support this bill for me and other families” Demore said.

The only confirmed source of the faulty concrete is an old quarry in Willington, Conn. A now-defunct concrete company mined it between 1983 and 2015. The quarry sits on a massive vein of pyrrhotite that runs up the northeast into Canada.

The bill under consideration in Massachusetts is similar to legislation passed in Connecticut.

In 2017, Connecticut created a program to reimburse impacted homeowners up to $175,000.

The money comes from state bonding and a $12 surcharge on home insurance policies.

The committee will now decide if the bill should be considered by the full house and senate.

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