The Ongoing Chinese Drywall Mess, and a Possible Remedy

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first_imgSo far, there are few winners among those afflicted by defects in drywall that had been imported from China and used on many housing projects in the U.S. during the building boom.Lawyers representing plaintiffs and defendants in the crossfire of lawsuits stemming from the drywall’s tendency to release a corrosive, foul-smelling gas – tentatively identified as a reduced-sulfur compound being produced by bacteria in the wallboard – may be the only ones gaining ground.At least for the time being.A New York Times story published last week offered highlights of the litigation scuffle underway among homeowners, builders, insurers, and manufacturers. The situation is especially dreary, and in some cases financially ruinous, for the homeowners, whose list of woes attributed to the drywall’s off-gassing include breathing problems, headaches, nosebleeds, and severe corrosion of metal fixtures of almost every type.To the extent most homeowners don’t have the financial resources to weather a long-running legal dispute, much less pay for replacement of all the drywall and affected electrical equipment in their homes (a process that could cost, on average, from $100,000 to $150,000 per home, the Times notes), their prospects do indeed look bleak.A partial reprieve for homeowners in limbo?Customers of some large homebuilders that used the drywall, including Lennar Corporation, may see some relief. Lennar, the Times points out, has set aside $40 million for home repairs, while it tries to collect from its insurance company and sues several Chinese suppliers and American middlemen. But customers of builders who operate on a smaller scale are unlikely to be handed complete wallboard replacements.There is at least hope of a remedy, though, for the off-gassing itself. As noted in a Builder Online story earlier this month, Sabre Environmental Services, based in Slingerland, New York, developed a system for pumping chlorine gas – which neutralizes sulfur gases by oxidizing them, and also kills organisms that might be producing the gases – that has been used in oil fields to oxidize well-clogging sulfur gases and deployed to sanitize government buildings after the anthrax attacks in 2001.More recently, as the Builder story points out, Sabre used its system to disinfect homes with mold contamination. Then, in the spring, builders and insurers contacted Sabre about using the system on homes with off-gassing drywall. In tests on afflicted homes in Fort Myers, Florida, the company says, the chlorine dioxide completely deactivated the reduced-sulfur compounds off-gassed by the drywall, and thoroughly disinfected the drywall, wall studs, electrical outlets, and other wall interiors.“When we treat a house for Chinese drywall, it is fixed,” Karen Cavanagh, COO and general counsel, told Builder.Before the Sabre system is rolled out on any scale, however, its relative effectiveness needs to pass muster with government officials (the Consumer Products Safety Commission is leading tests designed to determine the sources of the drywall contamination and their environmental effects) and insurers, who need to be convinced it will work. (The gas does completely dissipate and leaves no residue – hence its approval for use after the anthrax attacks.)Homes that may be treated with the Sabre system have to be completely cleared of personal possessions, since the daylong chlorine dioxide treatment will bleach certain objects. Beyond that expense, the treatment itself would cost about $10 to $15 per square foot, although Sabre says it developed a potentially more-cost-effective method during the tests in Fort Myers, where up to 10 homes at a time where treated with one application.last_img

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Tribunal declares Union rules changes invalid

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Hoboken mayor urges council not to move to make appointments to…

first_imgHOBOKEN– According to a press release from the city, Mayor Ravi Bhalla is asking the city council to reconsider its intention to transfer appointment authority of three full rent board members and two alternates from the mayor to the city council based on a legal analysis provided by corporation counsel.Corporation counsel notes that the city council’s proposed actions related to the Rent Leveling and Stabilization Board violate New Jersey State statutes.The quasi-judicial nine-member Rent Leveling and Stabilization Board is comprised of residents and tenants. It hears cases such as those of landlords who are applying for a hardship exception to the city’s long-term rent control laws, which keep rent increases to a few percents each year.During the last council meeting, the council approved five out of the seven mayoral appointments to the board, not including residents Warren Hall and Heath Urban whom Bhalla resubmitted for consideration at this week’s special council meeting, which will take place on Thursday, March 15 at 7 p.m.“State law is very clear about how appointments should be made to boards,” said Bhalla in the release. “Any decisions made by board members who are improperly appointed calls into question the validity of determinations made by the Rent Board. I hope that the Council will reconsider their actions and provide their advice and consent regarding the nominations of Mr. Hall and Mr. Urban, two highly qualified appointees who I know would serve our community well.”According to a March 5 memo from the city’s law department to the council, the new ordinance which would allow the council to appoint members to the board is in violation of the Faulkner Act.A March 12 memo from the mayor to the council states, “On March 5, the Law Department submitted a legal memorandum advising you that the City Council does not have the legal authority to unilaterally appoint members to the Rent Control Board … Despite the March 5th legal memorandum, this Ordinance is still on the March 15, 2018, City Council Agenda, along with a series of resolutions wherein the City Council appears to be illegally attempting to appoint Rent Control Board members. These items should be removed from the City Council agenda, as you have been advised that you do not have the legal authority to take such actions.” ×last_img

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