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NEW YORK CITY-The Department of Buildings on Wednesday released its plan for increased oversight of concrete testing, including the establishment of a city-owned and operated laboratory. Also announced were the creation of a concrete unit at DOB and a new re-testing protocol for 82 buildings and construction sites that were mentioned in last October’s indictment against Testwell Laboratories by the Manhattan district attorney’s office. In a release, buildings commissioner Robert LiMandri says the DOB plan will “ensure concrete testing procedures are lawful and the concrete used meets a project’s specific design requirements.” The new protocols come amid a 17-month investigation into the concrete testing industry by the DA’s office.

Following Testwell’s indictment on what the Manhattan DA’s office describes in a statement as charges of falsifying testing documents on concrete and steel for 102 projects including the new Yankee Stadium and 1 World Trade Center, the DOB denied the company’s application to renew its concrete-testing license, although a state Supreme Court judge rejected DOB’s denial of the license renewal. The DOB is appealing the license reinstatement, according to a release.

Calls to Testwell’s current attorney, Paul Schechtman, were not returned by deadline, and company CEO V. Reddy Kancharla was unavailable for comment Wednesday afternoon. When the indictment was announced last October, the company’s then-attorney, Martin Adelman, said Ossining, NY-based Testwell was “disappointed with the charges and will contest them vigorously and looks forward to the restoration of its image in the construction industry.” A trial is scheduled to begin in November.

The city’s testing lab will be operated by the Department of Design and Construction and is expected to open as early as January, according to the DOB release. It will be housed in the Bronx and will be equipped to perform all required concrete-testing procedures, including the performance of mix designs and compression tests and proper storage of cylinders. The DDC will assign employees to the lab in the next few months, including a director who is required by law to be a licensed design professional with five years’ relevant experience.

Two licensed DOB engineers and two construction inspectors are staffing the DOB’s concrete unit, which will audit private testing labs, perform its own concrete field tests and take samples from construction sites so they can be evaluated at the city-owned lab and compared with private labs’ testing results. Until the DDC lab is operational, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has agreed to allow the DOB to use its testing lab.

The DOB says its protocol for re-evaluating concrete at 82 sites tested by Testwell, including 11 city-owned buildings, calls for a licensed engineer to perform structural analysis that includes visual inspection and a review of existing reports and data from the DOB and the Manhattan DA’s office. Further, the engineer must perform random re-testing for each category and condition of concrete as well as re-testing of critical structural members that support more than 15% of the building area.

In July, Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau indicted Stallone Testing Labs on charges that the Port Chester, NY-based lab had falsified mix test reports for 90 projects, including 1 World Trade Center, the Second Avenue Subway and the 9/11 Memorial, according to a statement from the DA’s office. The DOB, which last week revoked Stallone’s license to test concrete in the city, says in its release that it’s working with property owners mentioned in the Stallone indictment to determine whether a project’s final test results meet the structural design requirements. “If they do not, the affected property owners will also be required to follow the re-testing protocol,” the DOB release states.

Stallone attorney Luigi DeMaio tells GlobeSt.com, “I suppose they can re-test the concrete, but it makes no sense to do so.” For example, he says, on the few Stallone cylinders tested by the Port, the concrete was found to be 60% over the specified strength, where the norm is 25% over specifications. “On the strength of this, the city is planning to re-test?” he asked.

When the July indictment against Stallone was announced, DeMaio called the charges “an absolute, total and complete falsity,” according to published reports. “On all of these projects, the design mixes have been tested.” A trial has not yet been scheduled.

A spokesman for the Building Trades Employers Assoc., which represents union contractors, tells GlobeSt.com the association has no official response to the DOB protocols as yet.

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