Concrete Cancer Coverup – More sunlight needed


The Whaleoil investigation into a cover-up in the $400 million concrete industry now has documents that show the new $40.6 million Manuaku District Court and Fonterra’s $120 million Waitoa UHT factory have been made with dodgy cement.

As more documents are provided to Whaleoil, the more the cover-up becomes not only  a case of incompetence on the part of the officials responsible for overseeing construction of buildings, but also a desperate attempt at trying to confuse anyone that looks into this issue.  

At the centre of the cover-up is cement importing company Drymix, who for a number of months – January to March 2014, hid their own test results of the thousands of tonnes of cement they imported from Vietnam.

Drymix’s own test results showed alkali content of this imported cement was above the industry accepted standard, yet it still pumped it out into the market.

More alarmingly, the concrete industry body, the Cement and Concrete Association of New Zealand (CCANZ)lept to the defence of Drymix, saying in a 24 November 2014 Industry Update ‘No Breach of Cement of Concrete Standards’.

It’s CEO Rob Gaimster, said;

a series of investigations into specific allegations of high alkali cement have determined that no cement and no concrete in breach of standards has been sold into the market.

His comments were based on an so-called ‘independent report’ by a consultant paid by the very company that hid the original test results – Drymix.

Following Whaleoil questions to CCANZ, it can now be exposed that the 128 page Report by the New Zealand Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NZRMCA) completely contradicts Rob Gaimster’s assurances and instead confirms that concrete with an alkali content above 2.5kg/m3 has been sold to two unidentified construction projects.

Further, the NZRMCA Report talks of “confusion” and slams Drymix for failing to “properly evaluate the reasons for the differences between its cement certificates and the Vicem Bimson (Vietnamese cement supplier) certificates.”

Drymix’s position is there was no need for alarm because they relied on Vietnam’s Vicem Bimson figures showing that alkali levels were below or at 0.6%.

A well placed source who has read a copy of the NZRMCA’s Plant Audit Committee Report CCANZ (sent to Whaleoil on 24 December 2014), is alarmed at what’s hidden in Appendix C of the Report.


The wording in this next paragraph should be alarming.


What you have is a NZRMCA Report confirming that high alkali cement was used in these construction projects.

While the NZRMCA has not named those projects, Whaleoil has identified those projects as;

  1. Fonterra’s Waitoa UHT factory
  2. The Ministry of Justice’s Manukau District Court building

Whaleoil has put further questions to CCANZ, but in the meantime Fonterra and the Government should be demanding answers from the people that oversaw these construction projects.



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  • kehua

    This is why WOBH is a must read, you may see 4 lines about this scandal sometime in August courtesy of msm.

    • And they will say “a NZ Herald investigation shows…”

      There will be zero attribution.

      • Dave

        Well, WO already provides a valuable sub editing and correction service for the Herald completely free of charge, and to think that only 30 years ago I considered the then Wilson and Horton owned Herald to be the best paper on earth. I used to drive 12 km across town to get my copy at the only diary that sold them. Now, they can’t give them away.

  • la la land

    This is pretty concerning actually — WHY is this not in the MSM with journalists clambouring all over it? Is there anything general construction companies should be worried about ?

    • This is how spiteful the MSM have become about Whaleoil: they are happier leaving a big story like this to one side rather than give Whaleoil the satisfaction of a job well done.

      It doesn’t end here. Lives will be ruined, companies may go broke, and with really bad luck, lives may eventually be lost.

      • Alfred

        The construction companies may not have a clear line-of-sight over their supply chain as Drymix on-sold the cement to Concretec for pre-cast panels who then supplied Watts & Hughes for the Manukau Court construction project. There should be some very nervous engineers out there that worked on these projects.

        • It just goes to show that you are all at the mercy of your supply chain.

          However, a prima facie case seems to exist where certain parties are trying to cover up rather then investigate and fix. Some of that may lead to criminal charges.

        • la la land

          You cant really hold the engineers accountable for this though… the construction firm are in charge of the supply of the concrete to the engineers specification.

  • …oh, and by the way, Whaleoil does do news, and we do do journalism.

    Thank you for noticing.

  • Ginny

    Surely the first step in deciding if these buildings do have this cancer is to take and test core samples?

    • Alfred

      Taking core-samples in common practice in Australia, and is not difficult to do. Fonterra / Govt should take core-samples from these sites. Tests cost a few hundred dollars.

      • Dave

        they would need hundreds of samples, difficult to ascertain which panels were made with the faulty batches. however, the argument could be that the owner will pay for testing if ALL prove to be okay, but the supplier pays all costs should one fail! If Drimix claim its all okay, then they should not have any issue with this arrangement, and in allowing their clients details of the batches sold, so they can match batches to various panels and narrow down the core sampling.

    • Once you look, you have to deal with the results. There will be many people that don’t want to look, so that when the cancer becomes obvious, the companies and people involved no longer work there/no longer exist.

      Nobody will be liable that way, just like leaky homes.

  • NoVictim

    Drymix should be worried, surely if anyone can afford a court case, its Fonterra and the NZ Govt!

  • HSV325

    All I can say is you get what you pay for… Cheap crap imported product with documentation and test data from some dodgy ‘test facility’. Effectively if the product is found to be faulty its a complete demo job. Councils don’t give a stuff as long as someone gives them a PS 3 they will say we have all the documentation. Trouble is no experiance in the council code of compliance dept to question the documentation and ask the hard questions

  • friardo

    In general, engineering factors of safety are relatively high, ie very conservative. WO should be able to look up the factor of safety related to the allowable 0.62% alkali content. At a guess I’d say the 0.05% admixture content will be the relevant factor governing safety in use. There will be data available relating to strength and durability for exceeding these two limits. So WO may well be advised to find out by what % the the cement exceeded the allowable limits and relate that to the Factor of safety. It might turn out that the two building are OK or simply need to be monitored like bridges, engineering checks every year. For concrete sometimes a waterproof finish will do the trick by isolating the alkali from reaction.