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NYC demands new concrete testing protocol

World Cement,

New York City is ‘cracking’ down on concrete testing, following recent allegations that concrete testing companies have falsified test results for some of the biggest construction projects in the city.

Structural integrity
In early September, the Bloomberg administration announced that the city is to set up its own laboratory under control of the city’s Department of Design and Construction, together with a new unit in the Buildings Department that will audit the performance of testing companies. In addition, some 80 buildings that have been deemed ‘questionable’ will be re-tested.

Concrete crimes
The new action plan has been borne of suits filed by the Manhattan district attorney, which charge Testwell Laboratories and Stallone Testngs Labs Inc. with crimes including racketeering and fraud. Associated executives have also been accused of failing to carry out some tests, and falsifying the results for others. All parties have pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges, which have nevertheless resulted in several significant buildings, including the Goldmann Sachs headquarters and Yankee Stadium, being re-tested to confirm their safety. So far all results have come back positive, but the city won’t be taking any risks, especially considering the height of many of the city’s buildings.

Aggressive response
Buildings commissioner Robert D. LiMandri has been quoted as saying the new unit will be ‘more aggressive’, making surprise visits to both laboratories and construction sites to ensure that the necessary high standards are maintained. It is an effort that may demand a high initial investment (some US$1 million to set up, followed by an estimated US$500 000 p.a. to run, according to reports), but the cost savings in terms of decreased maintenance and prolonged life – not to mention the monetary and human cost if the worst happens – clearly make it worthwhile.

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