Thursday 20 October 2011

€10.5m required to remove pyrite from Ballymun homes, report shows

UPWARDS OF €10.5 million will have to be spent to remove the defective building material pyrite from newly built Ballymun regeneration homes, a Dublin City Council report has revealed.

Three developments of a total of 274 houses and apartments built to rehouse the tenants of the Ballymun flats have been found to have “pyrite problems”, the council said in a report submitted to the Oireachtas last week.

Remedial work to fix the problem in the largest of these developments, an estate of 124 housing units known as Sillogue 4, will cost approximately €10.5 million. Further tests are needed on the other two developments, Carton Terrace, which has 94 units, and Owensilla, which has 58 units, to determine the extent of the work needed and the costs involved, the council said.

The final costs of fixing the Ballymun pyrite problems are likely to be several multiples of what the council is facing to remove pyrite from its other social housing developments.

Pyrite, sometimes known as fool’s gold, is a mineral which naturally occurs in stone, but when exposed to air or water becomes unstable and can cause structural damage, including cracking and buckling of walls and floors, when used as a building material.

The presence of pyrite in the council’s housing stock was first confirmed in 2008 in the Avila Park Traveller housing scheme in Finglas. Six houses built in 2005 had shown “unusual defects” within a year of completion the council said, which were ultimately attributed to pyrite.

A subsequent review of the council’s recently built housing stock revealed excessive levels of pyrite in Clancarthy Court, a development of 20 senior citizens’ flats in Donnycarney; a complex of 69 units in Ballybough; a community and childcare facility in Ballymun and the three Ballymun housing developments.

Work to remove pyrite and repair the six Avila houses will cost about €663,000 and is due to begin this month. Work to repair the Clancarthy Court flats has already started and is expected to cost €700,000, the report said.

The developers of the Ballymun community facility, James Elliott Construction Ltd (JEC), won a High Court case against Irish Asphalt, which owned the Bay Lane quarry near Blanchardstown which supplied the pyrite-contaminated material. Irish Asphalt has sought permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Since the court action was initiated pyrite was discovered in the Ballymun housing estates, the council said. While the pyrite was discovered in Sillogue before the houses were brought into use, Carton Terrace and Owensilla are fully occupied.

Ballymun Regeneration Ltd is considering legal action against Irish Asphalt and “a decision is imminent”, the council said. The costs of the work will be funded by the council and the developers of the housing, the council said.

Irish Times

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