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Clients struggle to find flawed Lafarge cement


CUSTOMERS ARE still struggling to fi nd the exact location of high alkali concrete made with substandard Lafarge cement, it has emerged this week.

Lafarge revealed last month that 4Mm 3 of concrete produced between September 2002 and December 2004 is at risk of long term deterioration through alkali silica reactivity (NCE 20 January).

At the time it was understood that pinpointing the affected structures would be a simple paper-chasing exercise.

Projects known to have been supplied with concrete now classifi ed as 'high risk' include sea defence works, structures on the M5 and a pedestrian bridge across a rail line.

But it has this week emerged that many customers are having diffi ulty tracing the concrete once it was delivered to site.

'The problem is that we can be certain which sites ordered which concrete, but what happened to it after it arrived on site is another matter, ' said a spokesman for readymix producer Hanson.

Some customers, like the Highways Agency, are still cross checking delivery dates against site records to try to pin down the location of the concrete and assess the risk it represents.

Representatives from Hanson, RMC and Tarmac were due to meet Lafarge today.

Industry sources said all three companies were quietly seething over Lafarge's decision to use the high, medium or low risk description.

These are said to be based on concrete alkali contents derived from 1980s research.

The ready mix industry believes these are much too conservative, given that the actual cement content and alkali levels of the concrete involved are known.

Also on the agenda will be compensation for the extra costs involved, procedures for warranties and indemnities, and use of the BSI Kitemark.

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