Pyrite remediation works finally begin

After years of delays and hardship, progress is being made repairing and refurbishing homes in the Carleton House and Belmayne area of Dublin which were found to contain pyrite damage upon completion.

Buildings in these areas form part of what was a widespread scandal involving the substandard construction of a large number of social housing projects and community facilities in Dublin.

In a report to Dublin City Council’s (DCC) North Central Area Committee, Derek Farrell, Area Housing manager, stated that pyrite remediation works have just begun on two buildings in the Carleton Hall complex, with negotiations still ongoing for further works to be carried out on a créche and a community hall.

Peter Finnegan, senior structural engineer at the architects division of DCC, estimated the cost of repairing the two buildings was €140,000. The approximate cost of repairs to the créche will be €400,000. No estimate for repair costs to the community hall were available.

Seventeen houses in the Belmayne area are owned by DCC and require remediation works for pyrite. Mr. Farrell said that after protracted negotiations with the insurance company that covers these properties, the council has agreed works to begin on seven of the sites. Only one family has been relocated to temporary accommodation in order to facilitate the remediation works.

Much of the delay, according to Dublin City Council and Derek Farrell, has been due to complex negotiations with insurance companies and the building developers of the affected properties. The council admitted that there was very little hope of recouping any of the cost of repairs from the developers of the property meaning that the council would have to cover these.

In January of 2016 the estimated cost of the pyrite remediation repairs to properties in nine estates in Dublin was €7 million, this figure by the end of 2016 had jumped to €11 million. It is impossible to know what the total end cost of repairs to all affected properties will be. Many unforeseeable costs can arise over the course of a project of this nature, as well as added costs to known expenses, such as accommodation for families, DCC staff pay, sampling and testing of sites, surveying, the repairs themselves and so on.

In a memo to DCC regarding recouping costs on the remediation works, Peter Finnegan wrote: “It remains open to DCC in most cases to pursue the original contractor under the contract. These disputes are known to require a lot of resources and time and the outcome is far from certain. I am aware of three disputes that have been pursued through the courts against the quarry that supplied the original stone and that these have been vigorously defended and appealed at great cost to all parties. The only remedial works for DCC currently being funded by an insurance company (Premier Guarantee) are those at Belmayne. DCC still incur some residual costs on these, which are being dealt with on a case by case basis.”

Pyrite is a mineral more commonly known as fool’s gold. It has had many uses throughout history but now it is mainly used in the paper industry and in the production of sulphuric acid. When pyrite is present in building materials, and over time as these materials are exposed to oxygen, the material strains and weakens considerably, leading to cracks, structural damage and structural weakness.

Pyrite leads to cracks and structural damage. Source Flickr

Following the pyrite scandal, the Pyrite Resolution Act 2013 was signed into law in December 2013. This sets out the legal basis for the operation for a compensation scheme operated by the Pyrite Resolution Board. This scheme only applies to dwellings, but excludes dwellings owned by a local authority.

By Chris Kelly

Palestinian Flag to Fly Over City Hall in “Gesture of Solidarity”

Green, white and black with a red triangle – the Palestinian tricolour is not typically seen above Dublin City Hall, however, there is a proposal to fly the flag there next month. Cormac Murphy explores the debate.

Setting Dublin alight

Christmas is here and we are super excited to say the least!

The lights, the music, family and friends, there’s nothing more magical than the month of December. However, for some the festive season can start a little earlier.

Preparations for the festive period come about in mid-November for Dublin City Council. We went behind the scenes to find out how the city Christmas lights go up.

By Nicola Kirwan and Aisling Rafferty

Dublin City Council receive over 200 calls in one week with bonfire complaints

Dublin City Council (DCC) has received over 200 calls in one week from people reporting the hoarding of bonfire materials.

Brian Hanney, head of street cleaning at DCC, said: “The last few weeks have been very busy for our clean up crews, especially this week [when] we have received over 200 calls, which is a huge amount.”

Mr Hanney says the number of bonfire hoards DCC have cleared this year has fallen from previous years, but they are still a major issue.

“Every year we spend three quarters of a million euro on the removal of bonfire materials. This is a huge amount and money we would obviously like to spend elsewhere,” he said.

Bonfires, especially in built up urban areas, pose huge environmental and social risk.

Dublin City Council removed approximately 1,500 tyres and 750 tonnes of bonfire material last year.

The area of the city with the most bonfire complaints is the North Central district which includes Coolock, Artane, Drumcondra and Donaghmede.

Second was the South Central district, which contains the Liberties, Kilmainham and Ballyfermot areas of the city.

“This week we confiscated 90 tyres which were part of a bonfire hoard from the South Central area of the city. As you can imagine, burning 90 tyres in a built up residential area could have disastrous consequences,” Mr Hanney explained.

“We have run a number of initiatives and events in communities around the city which will give people a safe, family orientated alternative to unsupervised bonfires.”

Along with the hugely popular Bram Stoker Festival which runs across the city, DCC have a number of smaller, more localised events.

Halloween parades and fireworks displays will take place in communities across the city to offer people a fun, safe alternative to bonfires.