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Courtney Amendment on NIST Pyrrhotite Research Included in Key House Spending Bill

June 19, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – During today’s consideration of a five-bill appropriations minibus for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, Congressman Joe Courtney’s (CT-02) amendment on pyrrhotite research passed unanimously. The amendment provides $4 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to conduct research on the effects of the mineral pyrrhotite on concrete aggregate. NIST is the leading federal expert in cement and concrete standards, and this research funding would ensure that NIST develops a cost-effective and standard testing method for at-risk homes and other structures for the presence of the mineral pyrrhotite. The amendment also requires NIST to create a risk-rating scale, so that homeowners, businesses, and local governments have a better understanding of what quantity of pyrrhotite poses a danger to their foundation’s structural integrity.

“In Connecticut and Massachusetts, homeowners, businesses, and local municipalities are struggling to address a widespread problem of crumbling concrete foundations due to the presence of the mineral pyrrhotite,” said Congressman Courtney. “The crumbling foundations crisis has impacted our friends and neighbors in eastern Connecticut—many in my own neighborhood—and it’s had a major financial impact on local municipalities as entire schools now will be closed for repair due to crumbling concrete foundations. This amendment will help to develop a critical, reliable, and cost-effective standard for testing for the presence of pyrrhotite in concrete that’s being used in residential, commercial, and municipal structures.

“We need a better understanding the scope of the crumbling foundations crisis and of the mineral pyrrhotite, and this amendment takes us closer to achieving that goal. Just this past week, the Connecticut Foundations Solutions Indemnity Corporation (CFSIC) published additional information for homeowners with crumbling foundations. In this most recent publication, CFSIC specifically noted that they have not established standards for the amount of pyrrhotite that must exist in order to qualify for assistance because no standards exist. This amendment would solve that problem: it would require NIST to create a risk-rating scale, which is urgently needed to understand the scope of this issue. Right now, any level of pyrrhotite is considered a cancer on a property, and  makes it unmarketable. This amendment help homeowners to understand the risks that pyrrhotite poses to their home even if no cracking is present. I was pleased to have bipartisan support for my amendment today, and encourage my colleagues to vote for the underlying legislation when we have the final vote next week.”

“Tens of thousands of homeowners in Connecticut and Massachusetts are experiencing crumbling home foundations due to a naturally occurring mineral called pyrrhotite. This mineral causes concrete foundations to crack and deteriorate, rendering homes uninhabitable without expensive repairs, which can cost more than $100,000. I have met with homeowners affected in my district – hardworking, middle-class families who are in danger of losing their homes through no fault of their own. The Connecticut delegation has been working diligently to explore all avenues on the local, state, and federal levels to respond to this crisis and give homeowners and communities the tools they need. I am proud that our amendment to support funding for NIST to further research the effects of pyrrhotite on concrete was adopted,” said Larson.

Congressman Courtney’s amendment was included in the Commerce, Justice and Science division of today’s appropriations package (H.R. 3055), and was approved by unanimous consent. The spending package is expected to receive a final vote in the House next week.