WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) and U.S. Reps. Joe Courtney (CT-02) and John Larson (CT-01) on Monday announced that funding they have supported to provide federal resources to conduct research on Connecticut's crumbling foundations crisis has been included in the final, conferenced version of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2020.
The bill text, made public Monday evening, includes $1.5 million in funding sought by the delegation for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, to conduct research on the effects of the mineral pyrrhotite on concrete aggregate.
The delegation said NIST is the leading federal expert in cement and concrete standards, and the federal funding will help NIST develop 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 government have a better understanding of what quantity of pyrrhotite poses a danger to a foundation's structural integrity.
"Thousands of homeowners in Connecticut and Massachusetts have crumbling foundations," the delegation said in a joint statement. "We need a better understanding of the scope of the crisis and of the mineral pyrrhotite, and homeowners and others need a clear understanding of the risks of pyrrhotite, and the levels at which it poses a true danger to the integrity of a concrete foundation. The funding we've fought for on both sides of the Capitol will help NIST conduct the research needed to answer these questions, and we look forward to final passage of the bill later this week."
The Connecticut delegation has worked toward securing federal funds for research into eastern and north-central Connecticut's crumbling foundations crisis throughout the duration of the bicameral budget negotiation process. In June, the amendment that Courtney authored, and which was co-sponsored by Rep. Larson, to provide NIST with federal funding to conduct research on the effects of the mineral pyrrhotite on concrete aggregate was included as part of H.R. 3055, a five-bill appropriations minibus for FY 2020. The House passed H.R. 3055 later that month.
In October, the amendment that Sens. Blumenthal and Murphy authored to allocate federal funding to NIST to partner with academia to create a reliable and cost-effective standard for testing for pyrrhotite in concrete in residential, commercial and municipal structures passed in the Senate as part of the Senate FY 2020 CJS Appropriations Bill. Following passage in the Senate, the bill moved to conference with the House of Representatives.
Currently, according to the delegation, no standard has been established for the amount of pyrrhotite that must be present in a concrete foundation in order to qualify for financial assistance. Inclusion of the crumbling foundations research funding sought by the Connecticut delegation in the final, conferenced version of the CJS Appropriations Bill for FY 2020 will help NIST to create a risk-rating scale, which is urgently needed to understand the scope of the crumbling foundations crisis, and which will help homeowners to understand the risks pyrrhotite poses to their home, the politicians said.
NIST has previously sent representatives to eastern Connecticut to tour sites impacted by the crumbling foundations crisis. In October, Courtney was joined by a representative from NIST to tour Birch Grove Primary School in Tolland, which discovered that it had a crumbling foundation in late 2017.