This is extraordinary. Corners must have been cut in testing the mined material. Sulphates have been a concrete issue for decades and one of the principal targets of any geotesting process.
What a mess in the resorts! An insurance underwriters nightmare.
According to the French FR3 local news broadcast the foundations of 13 ski lifts may be affected. These are in the resorts of Saint-Sorlin, Val Fréjus, Saint-Jean d’Arves and La Toussuire. At la Toussuire, part of the les Sybelles ski area, samples have been taken from the foundations of the pylon of the Médaille d’Or chair lift for analysis.
Five chair and eight drag lifts built between March and November 2004 in the ski resorts of La Toussuire, Saint-Sorlin, Val-Fréjus, Saint-Jean d’Arves and at Valmeinier have been now been checked by the authorities. A report made public yesterday says there are no problems with the concrete used in the foundations.
I can imagine that BRA/Vicat’s insurers have been contacted to compensate the owners of the buildings for the huge loss sustained. The whole thing could take ages (the insurers are known for going through their policy to try and find a clause enabling them not to pay). In case of dispute the building owners could end up suing BRA/Vicat and their insurers and here again, allowing for appeals, litigation could easily take between 5 and 8 years before the dispute is resolved.
According to the local paper Le Dauphiné Libéré the Hauts de Valmeinier II was raided by looters over the weekend who stripped the building bare. This was prior to demolition work due to start this week.
Vicat have agreed to compensate everyone affected by the dodgy concrete. The control work on the 13 ski lifts which were possibly affected involved drilling 69 bore holes into the foundations. High levels of sulphate were found in some and more investigative work will be carried out. However the quality of the concrete is said to be very good and all the lifts will operate this winter.
Local MP Michel Bouvard has asked the French government for state aid for an advertising campaign to counter the bad news coming out of the valley in recent weeks. The Maurienne already benefitted from such aid in 1999 following the Mont Blanc tunnel fire when traffic was diverted through the valley to the Frejus tunnel.