CONCRETE CANCER COVER-UP CTD: Golden Bay Cement deepens mystery over blending

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The question doing the rounds in the $400 million New Zealand concrete market is whether cement importer Drymix is now trying to drag Golden Bay Cement into the concrete cancer cover-up.

Golden Bay Cement, 100% owned by Fletcher Building Limited, is currently in the middle of ‘supplying a special cement blend for use in precast, grouting and in situ items’ for Auckland’s Waterview Connection.

Golden Bay Cement also happens to have the only large-scale cement blending facility in New Zealand, based on Plummer Street at the Ports of Auckland.

Why is this important?  

Well, the industry association The Cement and Concrete Association of New Zealand (CCANZ)  has gone into bat for Drymix, pretending that dodgy cement imported from Vietnam ‘did not have excessive alkali levels’ that could lead to buildings being at risk from an alkali silica reaction – commonly known as concrete cancer.

However, there is a slight problem with that position.

Drymix has already confirmed alkali levels in imported cement had not been in the range of accepted New Zealand standards.

At issue, is that various buildings around New Zealand are potentially at risk whereby under specific circumstances concrete made with this high alkali cement can create problems called Alkali Silica Reaction causing concrete to expand and crack.

Drymix and CCANZ’s head Rob Gaimster decided that instead of advising its customers like the Ministry of Justice that their $40 million Manukau District Court building may be subject to concrete cancer, they are now claiming that thousands of tonnes of cement containing high alkali levels have somehow been ‘blended’.

This is despite Whaleoil having seen documents showing that ‘The Manukau District Court upgrade is likely to have been supplied with concrete manufactured with the imported cement in question’.

It does raise further questions about whether CCANZ’s Rob Gaimster has been completely upfront with when he has been “updating MBIE, the regulator”.

But back to Drymix. We now have a situation where serious questions are being asked about where this so-called blending of thousands of tonnes of high alkali cement actually took place.

CCANZ has so far refused to answer a few simple questions and are doing everything they can to avoid undertaking a simple concrete core test that would prove once and for all whether the concrete walls of the Manukau District Court building (and from other buildings) have been constructed with this dodgy cement.

Insiders have told Whaleoil that Drymix doesn’t have the facilities to undertake such blending, which leaves Fletcher’s Golden Bay Cement as the only possible place where this blending could have taken place.

Whaleoil got in touch with Golden Bay Cement and asked them if they had undertaken any blending of imported cement from Drymix.

Fletcher Building’s external media manager Shannon Huse Caldwell responded saying;

“Golden Bay Cement has not blended cement for Drymix Cement”

So, with Fletcher’s Golden Bay Cement confirming that they have no involvement in the controversy, the heat is turning back to Drymix and CCANZ to explain how they have managed to ‘blend’ thousands of tonnes of imported cement.

With the spin unraveling at a rapid rate, it won’t be long before questions start being asked about what MBIE knows and whether the Minister of Housing Nick Smith is being kept in the loop.

 


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  • conwaycaptain

    Many many years ago I was on a ship and we loaded cement in bags in Hong Kong for Noumea. We had to get into the barges with probe thermometers to get the temp of the cement at least 3-4 bags down in the barge stow and if it was over a certain temp refuse to load.
    Of course it was over temp and had stand up arguments on deck with the IRATE Chinese shippers. I was a callow 21 years old 3rd Mate and so it was experience by fire.
    Why take the temp??? The previous ship on the run had loaded cement and got to Noumea and the heat had caused the bags to dry out and break and the cement was a solid block in the Lower Hold!!! Ship was taken back to HK and the cement was extracted with pneumatic jack hammers and grabs. Took weeks.

  • conwaycaptain

    Surely the cement will be checked by the end user independently before use???

  • Kip_Dynamite

    Surely the implication here is that there are public buildings around NZ with potential structural faults, which presents serious safety concerns. Why is this not in the MSM?

    • SlightlyStrange

      Solely because it broke here first seems to be the implication from a post the other week.

  • OT Richter

    Does the blending have to be undertaken at a cement plant, or are there other industrial process providers that could have blended the cement?

    • Moot. Drymix said GB did it. GB said no

      • alphabrick

        Why is the word ‘cement’ in the quote in italics? Have GB done other work for Drymix (like blending slag or flyash)?

      • OT Richter

        Article above doesn’t say that Drymix stated they used GB for blending. It assumes it by a process of elimination. Unless I’m missing something.

        • We are talking about tens of thousands of tonnes of cement, that needs be virtue of the product be handled in order to protect it from weather, water etc…it has to be done in a proper cement facility, of which there is only one in New Zealand…Golden Bay’s…Dry Mix have fibbed.

  • Anthony

    Potentially the cement could have been blended at a concrete batch plant, (i.e. at the point where the concrete is batched up) rather than purely just as cement. It could be done by dosing proportions of the high alkali and good cement into each concrete batch.

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