Concrete rot hits Savoie ski resorts

Numerous buildings constructed since the spring of 2004 and some ski lifts may have to be rebuilt in the Maurienne valley’s ski areas due to defective concrete. The concrete becomes friable in the presence of humidity. The problem affects the foundations of a number of buildings as well as public works including road strengthening. The Savoie highways department is undertaking a thorough investigation of both roads and 13 ski lifts. The concrete was used in the valley from March to July 2004.

hauts de Valmeinier
Hauts de Valmeinier will be demolished

The problem first came to light in the spring of 2006 following controls in the town of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. The concrete is of such a poor quality that it is possible to make a hole with just fingernails.

An inquiry has identified problems with concrete manufactured between April and July 2004 by Béton Rhone-Alpes (BRA), a member of the Vicat group. The product was manufactured at Saint-Jean and Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne using material from the future Lyon-Turin rail tunnel. The material contained high levels of a sulphate that expands on contact with water weakening the mix.

The ski resorts of Valmeinier and Valloire are said to be worst affected. In Valmeinier 170 apartments are currently off limits. The resort say that the 2nd stage of the luxury Hauts de Valmeinier and the 1st stage of the Grand Panorama will have to be completely demolished but claims that none of the resort’s ski lifts, covering 150km of runs, are affected and people can book in complete confidence that the resort will be fully open this winter. Both resorts grew their turn-over last year by 3-4% but this news will have an impact on their finances.

The Maurienne has expanded rapidly over the last five years with new ski lifts linking the les Sybelles ski area and a modernisation in the other resorts. The number of tourist beds has also increased from 75,000 to 125,000. Compensation claims are expected to run to many tens of millions of euros and will involve both Vicat and their insurers. Vicat shares have fallen by 13% % on the Paris stock exchange over the last 5 days.

Posted by davidof on Friday, 06 October, 2006 at 02:46 PM

There was an article in the local Dauphine Libere newspaper saying that people affected by the concrete rot have had trouble getting quick compensation. Their house insurers claim that the problem was preexisting and the manufacturer is responsible.

An Association des sinistrés du béton (ASB) has been established with the aim to launch a class action (action de groupe) if necessary against either the insurers or Vicat. Their spokeman is Yannick Le Roux, his details are as follows:-

Le Roux, Yannick
Tel: 04 79 05 18 59

If you have been affected by this problem you should ask your insurer to compensate you directly and seek recovery from Vicat.

Posted by  on  Sunday, 03 December, 2006  at 03:10 PM
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