HARTFORD—U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announced that federal funding secured by the senators in the FY2020 appropriations bill to conduct research on Connecticut’s crumbling foundations crisis has been awarded to the University of Connecticut. Last year, Murphy, Blumenthal, and the Connecticut delegation worked to secure $1.5 million in funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to conduct research on the effects of the mineral pyrrhotite on concrete aggregate. This week, the members announced that NIST has awarded UConn $768,000 in federal funding to support research that captures information on the premature degradation of concrete foundations that contain pyrrhotite, and seeks to build a risk assessment framework for identifying and evaluating potential mitigation strategies.
“Far too many Connecticut homeowners have been devastated by crumbling foundations. We fought hard to ensure that this research funding was included in the final appropriation package last year, and we are thrilled that this grant award will help further the important work already underway at UConn,” said the senators. “This research will help us better understand the risks that pyrrhotite poses to concrete foundations so that we can assess the scope of this crisis. For years, we’ve worked to deliver relief to families dealing with crumbling foundations – and while this is a step in the right direction – we are not going to let up now.”
Last year Murphy and Blumenthal introduced and passed an amendment to the of the Senate Fiscal Year 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Bill to allocate at least $1.5 million to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to partner with academia in developing a reliable and cost-effective standard for testing for the presence of pyrrhotite in concrete used in residential, commercial, and municipal structures. That amendment was later included in the final bill and signed into law. Currently, 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. This research funding will help NIST to create a risk-rating scale to will help homeowners to understand the risks pyrrhotite poses to their home.
Murphy has introduced the Aid to Homeowners with Crumbling Foundations Act, co-sponsored by Blumenthal, which would provide $100 million over five years from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to states like Connecticut that have created non-profit crumbling foundations assistances funds to repair damages to residential structures due to pyrrhotite. Blumenthal has introduced the Crumbling Foundations Small Business and Homeowners Assistance Act of 2019, co-sponsored by Senators Murphy, Markey, and Warren, to establish a grant program through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to award funding up to $20 million annually over a five year period. Grants would be available to states to reimburse affected owners of small businesses, condominium associations, and homeowners for work to prevent, repair and mitigate damage caused by concrete foundations containing pyrrhotite.