RUTLAND, Mass. (WWLP) – Lawmakers approved an amendment to the state budget that would require all quarries in Massachusetts to get tested for pyrrhotite, which is the mineral that causes this cracking in foundations. Now, it’s waiting for the Governor Baker’s signature.
Crumbling foundations have affected homes stretching from the shoreline of Connecticut up north to Ashburnham at the Massachusetts-New Hampshire state line. The 22News I-Team visited a home in the Worcester County town of Rutland that tested positive for pyrrhotite, a mineral found in concrete that causes it to crack when exposed to oxygen and water.
“There were some cracks in the foundation,” said Nicholas Hany, the owner of H-CON LLC. “It was enough to make their house almost valueless to a potential buyer. They want to move and they can’t sell their home.”
This week, the repair process began. The house was lifted off its foundation about 14 inches at a time until it’s six feet off the ground.
“The unified hydraulic system makes sure we go up evenly the whole time we are lifting,” said Sean Payne, the owner of Payne Construction. “We’re not wracking the building, twisting the building or stressing it.”
They dig out all the bad concrete, then refill the foundation with good concrete, and lower the house back down. This fix comes with a price tag of $175,000 – out-of-pocket.
A new piece of legislation is trying to stop the problem from getting any worse by requiring that all quarries in Massachusetts are tested for pyrrhotite. The I-Team has confirmed that there is at least one known source in central Massachusetts, in addition to the original source in Connecticut. State Senator Anne Gobi said that the central Mass. company stopped using the tainted quarry once they found out about the problem.
But there are many other quarries in the state at risk of containing pyrrhotite. The red on this map is everywhere the mineral naturally occurs.
“This could be a potentially multi-billion dollar problem,” said Hany. “We need the government’s help. This is a FEMA-sized issue. This is not a state-sized issue.”
To get a better idea of just how many homeowners are impacted in Massachusetts, another new piece of legislation in the budget would remove the limits on what homes qualify for testing reimbursement.
Governor Baker now has to sign the budget and return any amendments and vetoes. There are only 10 days left in the legislative session for lawmakers to work through any changes he may make.