World-Renowned Corrosion Engineering Expert Lays Out Possible Causes of Tragic Event
Offers Specific Inspection and Condition Assessment Recommendations for Nearby Buildings of Similar Age
Additionally, Leading Florida Lawyer William Clayton Foresees Multiple Legal and Regulatory Issues in the Future
Fort Lauderdale, FL – June 30, 2021 – Matergenics, a state-of-the-art materials testing laboratory and corrosion engineering firm, and Mehrooz Zamanzadeh, Ph.D. (Dr. Zee), one of the foremost corrosion engineering experts in North America, today issued their preliminary report on the potential causes of the catastrophic failure that led to the collapse of the Surfside Condominium. They also highlight specific inspection and condition assessment recommendations for nearby buildings of a similar age.
Additionally, leading South Florida law firm Clayton Trial Lawyers, PLLC identifies several possible legal and regulatory issues stemming from this catastrophic failure. William R. Clayton, Esquire, Founder and Managing Partner at the firm, specializes in construction and engineering litigation. Clayton is also a former Shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, LLP, and was a Chair of the Real Estate Litigation Practice Group.
Dr. Zee is currently a Technical Director and Principal Investigator on projects related to buildings and the utility industry at Matergenics. He is a National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) Certified Corrosion Specialist with nearly 30 years of practical experience in corrosion engineering, materials selection/design, and cathodic protection/coatings.
Specific Details of Matergenics’ and Dr. Zee’s Report on Causes of Surfside Condominium Collapse Include:
- We believe that there is a strong possibility that the initial damage to the building, that precipitated the collapse, was caused by the degradation of the materials of construction and load-bearing members most likely caused by accelerated corrosion, in the lower floors and parking garage areas of the condominium.
- Did the building owner engage a corrosion engineering firm to perform a building inspection and corrosion mapping from a corrosion engineering point of view?
- The 2018 inspection report(s) are brief and without extensive documentation as to the number of columns and beams affected by noted deterioration and their precise locations. There is no corrosion mapping. There is no thickness loss or quantified risk assessment or specific recommendations for corrosion mitigation.
- Was there to be a more extensive follow-up and more extensive investigation?
- It was imperative that there should have been more photographic documentation of the deterioration.
- There are no indications of physical and focused measurements such as the loss in thickness of rebar or load-bearing members exposed to corrosive moisture, flooding, or saltwater (chloride) permeation.
- There are no measurements of crack widths in the concrete or petrographic analysis of concrete. There are no remaining life calculations that were performed.
- There are no documents detailing the intended plans for repair, replacement, or corrosion protection for the structural components that needed them most.
- There was no in-depth corrosion analysis that was performed. Corrosion Products should have been analyzed and corrosive ions identified. More likely than not chlorides played an important role in the accelerated corrosion of load-bearing members. A NACE Certified Corrosion Specialist should have been engaged in the inspections and risk assessment to address corrosion damage-related mechanisms and corrosion engineering solutions for this building.
- The following inspection and condition assessment should be performed immediately on similar aging buildings/structures nearby, in C5 and marine environments:
- Corrosion mapping;
- Thickness loss measurements of load-bearing members and reinforcements in concrete foundations; and
- Engineering calculations and remaining life determinations based on thickness loss in load-bearing members
Clayton states, “It is apparent that current building regulations in Miami-Dade, and in other oceanfront counties with high-rise condominiums in Florida, do not adequately address the serious structural concerns that this sad tragedy has brought to the forefront.”
Matergenics’ and Dr. Zee’s specific Inspection and Condition Assessment Recommendations for Nearby Buildings of Similar Age Include:
The inspection and condition assessment of the aging structures in C5 environments and in this area should include the following:
- Visual Inspection
- Petrographic analysis – to determine concrete condition
- Sound test to detect delamination
- Phenolphthalein – to determine PH and carbonation
- Chloride content – to identify chloride corrosion risk
- Linear Polarization Corrosion Rate – to determine the direct exposure corrosion rate
- Continuity Test – to determine continuity of rebars
- Stray current survey – to determine stray current corrosion risks
- Resistivity – to determine resistivity and corrosion risk of concrete
- Corrosion mapping by electrochemical and non–destructive testing (NDT)
Concrete core samples should be retrieved from corroded areas (identified in corrosion mapping) for petrographic analysis to determine if the concrete is structurally sound or requires repair or replacement.
“Specifically, it is imperative that future state-wide regulations require that both a corrosion engineering specialist and a structural engineer take part in building inspections to provide detailed reporting and a quantification of corrosion risks in their condition assessments,” said Clayton. “Condominium associations in Florida overseeing similarly situated buildings to the collapsed building, are on notice that they should take immediate action and obtain a corrosion assessment.”
Dr. Zee has been setting up or improving condition assessment, corrosion control/assessment programs for construction-related companies. He has intimate knowledge of corrosion risk of underground and above-ground assets, foundations including corrosion risk assessment of concrete foundations. He works closely with engineering teams, operational/maintenance, and risk assessment/reliability engineers.
Dr. Zee and William Clayton are both available for one-on-one interviews in-person, on-site, or via phone/zoom. Please feel free to reach out to arrange a time that is convenient.
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These findings are an initial draft based on preliminary information and assumptions. These viewpoints are subject to changes as additional information and documentation becomes available for study or review.
About Mehrooz Zamanzadeh, PhD. (Dr. Zee):
Dr. Zee has worked in the oil and gas, electric power, and water/wastewater utility industries throughout his career and has resolved a wide range of materials and corrosion engineering solutions for these industries.
Among Dr. Zee’s awards for his contributions to materials and corrosion, engineering are Fellow Awards from both the American Society for Materials (ASM) and the NACE, a truly rare occurrence. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Appalachian Underground Corrosion Short Course’s (AUCSC) Colonel George C. Cox Outstanding Award, given in recognition of his contributions to underground corrosion engineering.
He has been active in the development of standard practices that are geared towards corrosion risk assessment, corrosion mitigation, cathodic protection, stray current, fasteners, coating assessment, and repair of damaged coatings for NACE and IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electron Engineers).
He has a B.S. and M.S. in Materials Science and Engineering, as well as a Ph.D. in Materials Science from Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Zee also conducted Post-Doctoral Research at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Zee has lectured and taught frequently on materials selection, corrosion, coatings, cathodic protection, failure analysis (fracture mechanics), for universities (University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and Penn State University) and technical societies (NACE, AFS, ASM, and ASTM).
Dr. Zee has 55 patents and has authored 65 technical papers. He is certified by the National Association of Corrosion Engineers as a Specialist in the following areas: Corrosion, Coatings, Materials Selection and Design, and Cathodic Protection.
Matergenics Inc. is a state-of-the-art materials testing laboratory and corrosion engineering firm, providing root cause failure analysis determinations, inspection, and corrosion risk assessment of aging infrastructure and equipment, metallurgical testing; coating testing, concrete, and other material testing. Industries we serve include the electric power utility, telecommunication, oil and gas, aerospace, automotive, water and wastewater, medical, and manufacturing.
For more information, please visit: http://www.matergenics.com/
About Clayton Trial Lawyers, PLLC and William R. Clayton:
Clayton Trial Lawyers, LLP brings a practical knowledge of construction logistics and multi-faceted legal experience in projects including high-rise condominium buildings, professional football stadiums, and high-rise office buildings. William Clayton has represented one of the largest real estate developers in the U.S. defending construction claims by condominium associations and a major university in its largest and most complex construction projects.
William has tried jury cases to verdict – one involved the largest condominium on the Gulf Coast (31 stories, 572 units), where a hurricane and saltwater intrusion destroyed a completed construction project. A jury awarded his client over $40 million in damages – one of the largest verdicts in the U.S. He has also been specially retained by Lloyd’s of London in defending engineering malpractice lawsuits before juries.
William Clayton graduated with honors with a B.S. degree from Northwestern University, and he graduated from the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. He is listed as a Florida Super Lawyer (top 5%) and an Elite Lawyer (top 2%) in Florida.
For more information, please visit: https://ctllawyers.com/