Tuesday 17 October 2017

Huge repair works needed after pyrite found in schools

Elaine Keogh

PYRITE has been discovered in three primary schools.

One of the schools, St Patrick's in Diswellstown, Castleknock, Dublin, was only completed in 2006 and an inspection by the Department of Education revealed toppling fitted furniture, pre-cast stairs lifting, distortion of door frames and skirting and extensive cracking.

Engineering consultants advised that "there is no alternative to total removal of the hardcore infill from all areas of the building and surrounding external areas".

The presence of pyrite arose after "emergency remedial works were required to free fire doors, toppling fitted furniture," according to documents released by the Department of Education under the Freedom of Information Act.

The material, which has left up to 20,000 homes needing structural repairs, was found in infill used underneath the school buildings. It reacts with air or water and expands, causing buildings above it to swell and crack.

The schools have 1,609 pupils between them.

The department has approved extensive remedial works to be carried out as soon as possible at a second school -- St Canice's Boys' School in Finglas, Dublin.

It was refurbished and had an extension completed in 2005.

Collapse

A report from January this year found that six rooms were affected and in the external library walls "there are two large vertical cracks" at corners measuring 10-15mm and one of them is "held in place with metal straps".

It recommends the repairs and rebuilding of the library walls take place as soon as possible "to prevent further deterioration and collapse".

In a letter to the school principal in March, the department said the concrete floor slab, insulation, damp-proof membrane and hardcore filling in the library and adjacent corridor "should be completely removed and replaced".

The third school, St Peter's in Phibsboro, Dublin, which was extensively refurbished in 2007, could face repairs totalling up to €1.5m.

There was little detail released on the consequences of the pyrite in this school.

A spokesperson for the department yesterday said it had "carried out a risk assessment of the schools deemed to be at most risk of pyrite damage.

"A total of 24 schools were identified for inspection due to their location near to the quarries where pyrites were known to be an issue.

"Strategies are in place to address the matter in the three schools affected."

Minister of State Shane McEntee, who has been supporting homeowners affected by pyrite, yesterday said: "The Government has to play its part to ensure" the problems "are fixed immediately".

The Pyrite Action Group said: "It is no surprise. If it went into houses, it had to go into other buildings including schools."

Irish Independent

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