Homes to be demolished after pyrite discovered
SIX homes in a new social housing estate in Drogheda are to be demolished because of pyrite.
The pyrite was discovered in building blocks and it is understood to be one of four sites – including an €8.6m school extension in north Dublin – known to be affected.
Chemical tests are currently being carried out on the walls of the 1,000-student Ardgillan community school, and a detailed report will be provided for the Department of Education.
Residents of the affected 25-house Drogheda scheme were due to move into the homes at Christmas.
However, six of the houses are scheduled for demolition today, and there is also uncertainty about the future of other dwellings in the cluster.
Among those affected by the disruption to the scheme are a number of people with disabilities, including a child.
Pyrite, a natural mineral found in stone, becomes unstable when exposed to air or water. It has caused cracking, splitting and buckling of walls, floors and ceilings in an estimated 12,000 homes. New homes damaged by pyrite can cost an average of €45,000 each to fix.
Pyrite is also believed to have been recently discovered in four residential houses in Dublin.
It is understood the blocks have been traced to a major international supplier of building materials. A company spokesman said it is working with its insurers – and all the other parties affected – in a bid to resolve the matter.
"This is a one-off isolated issue, impacting a small portion of blocks, manufactured at a single site over several months in the latter half of 2013,'' said a spokesman.
The Government has to date allocated €20m to the Pyrite Resolution Board to pay for 1,000 homes which have been badly affected.
A number of professional bodies, including the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland (RIAI), have also warned that pyrite has been discovered in concrete blocks supplied in the Leinster area.
"Blocks were noted to have brown discolouration", according to the Association of Consulting Engineers Ireland (ACEI).
It said the physical strength of the blocks "diminished" over a short period of time, particularly if they were exposed to moisture.
"The ACEI is concerned about occurrences and recommends all member firms request assurance from suppliers, that materials are free of deleterious materials," said a statement.
It also suggested sample blocks should be subjected to chemical testing where this is thought necessary.
A person found guilty of an offence in this area can face a prison sentence of one year or a fine of up to €500,000.
Some estimates suggest there are over 20,000 properties in Ireland contaminated to a greater or lesser degree with pyrite. One of the signs of a defective structure is for cracks to appear in walls and floors.