Thursday, May 04, 2006

Illegal Alien Cement?


Executives Of Big Dig Concrete Supplier Arrested

Six former and current executives of Aggregate Industries, the largest supplier of concrete and asphalt to the Big Dig, were arrested by the FBI early Thursday morning.

The current general manager, Robert Posteri, was one of the six arrested.

The charges they will face in federal court Thursday directly relate to the Big Dig and an investigation of Aggregate's alleged use of inferior concrete in the project from 1999-to-2003.

The Big Dig tunnel has been plagued by leaks in its concrete walls. An FBI spokeswoman tells CBS4 they are not ready to connect the concrete to those leaks.

The men were rounded up early Thursday morning by the FBI and State Police. General Manager Robert Posteri was arrested in Maryland. The number two man at Aggregate, District Operations Manager Gregory Stevenson, was picked up in Pennsylvania.

Also arrested were Quality Control Manager Gerard McNally and Dispatch Managers Mark Blaise, J. Jeff Fahar, and Keith Thomas.

The men are expected in federal court Thursday.

The U.S. Attorney's office will release details of the arrests at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Sources inform me that back in the late 90's, there were some issues concerning barge traffic on the Hudson River and the ability, or lack thereof, that hindered the transporting of Portland cement from Quebec to Aggregate Industries' (the Big Dig's largest concrete provider) batch plants in the quantities needed to keep up with the pace of work on the project.

Keep your eyes and ears open for stories about inferior cement being shipped in from Central and South America and used in Big Dig slurry wall concrete.

Illegal alien cement - you heard it here first.

UPDATE: From the Boston Herald:

"My understanding is what they did was mix, commingled leftover concrete with new concrete," [FBI spokesperson Gail Marcinkiewicz] said.

A news conference was scheduled for later Thursday to discuss the charges.

Aggregate provided 60 percent of the concrete used to build the Big Dig, according to the highway project’s Web site.

In an August 2005 raid of company offices in Everett, Saugus and Peabody, state police said they found evidence the company had falsified paperwork to make it appear that old or rejected concrete was freshly poured.


The allegations about concrete strength stemmed from a whistleblower suit filed in May 2005 in Suffolk Superior Court.

I have strong suspicions that some quantity of substandard concrete like that did, in fact, make its way into the mix, with the tacit approval of the plant managers and the concrete truck drivers on site. Quality control testing of every individual truckload of concrete was not required, nor would it have been possible, given the pace of some of the larger concrete placements on the project.

Whether or not it was as widespread a problem as this news makes it out to be, it reflects quite poorly on all parties involved.

We shall see.

UPDATE: Don't forget...

Late last year, Attorney General Tom Reilly said there was no evidence that the concrete in question compromised the structural integrity or safety of the Big Dig tunnels.

I'm curious to see what kind of "non-evidence" the FBI has uncovered here. I wonder if it will be enough to make Tom "Law and Order" Reilly return the campaign contributions he's received from project officials at Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff.

UPDATE: I wonder if any of the "non-evidence" brought to light during the course of this federal investigation will be subject to Tom Reilly's five-year gag order.

Something tells me the FBI wasn't signatory to that agreement.

Call it a hunch.

UPDATE: Boston Globe (8/11/05)

Supplier of Big Dig concrete investigated

[MA Attorney General Tom] Reilly said after the raid that he quickly began working in concert with the FBI and US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan's office to prosecute the case aggressively. ''We got the records that we were looking for and the information we were looking for," Reilly said.

Reilly, who met with a concrete industry specialist about the case, said it does not appear at this time that the concrete used in the Big Dig poses structural or safety concerns.

"Right now, we have no information that safety or strength or durability is an issue," Reilly said. "But we are continuing to look at certain areas. I came away comforted [from the conversation with the specialist], but that does not excuse the behavior."

The allegations concern concrete that was delivered at least five years ago, and if the concrete was causing structural problems, they would probably have appeared by now, Reilly said.

Not necessarily. If poorly placed (or substandard) concrete were to allow penetrating water to compromise the integrity of the steel reinforcing bars, it could be well over five years before any resultant damage appears.

"All of this was poured prior to 2000, and you would expect to see deterioration," he said.

From the Channel 4 story linked at top of post:

The charges they will face in federal court Thursday directly relate to the Big Dig and an investigation of Aggregate's alleged use of inferior concrete in the project from 1999-to-2003.

This will be a fun one to watch, no doubt.