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


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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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.