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Drywall fix has its doubters

Company's solution is unsafe, experts contend

Oct. 30, 2010



From Hernandez v. Knauf Gips KG, et al. ruling by Judge Eldon Fallon, April 27
The cost of the court’s scope of remediation includes the following:
1. Removal and replacement of all drywall;
2. Removal and replacement of all components of the HVAC system;
3. Removal and replacement of the entire electrical system;
4. Removal and replacement of all insulation;
5. Removal and replacement of molding, countertops, cabinets, and other items that must be removed during drywall removal, are likely to be damaged during removal, and are cheaper to replace than to preserve;
6. Removal and replacement of copper and silver components in the plumbing system;
7. Removal and replacement of carpet; removal, storage, and reinstallation of undamaged wood flooring; and protection of tile flooring during remediation;
8. Cleaning after remediation, including use of HEPA vacuuming and wet-wiping or power-washing all surfaces;
9. Certification from an environmental consultant;
10. Any actions incident to or necessary to carry out and finalize the above.

(Oct. 14)

Calls for:
•Removal and replacement of all drywall, with some exceptions;
•Remove and replace coils from affected air handling units; replace thermostats and control boards; otherwise clean and/or replace air handler as needed; inspect and clean metal duct work;
•Remove and replace all electrical wiring;
•Remove and replace porous insulation, repair or replace as necessary non-porous insulation;
•Remove and replace exposed plumbing components that show discoloration or pitting like faucets, handles; all other piping should be inspected, cleaned of contamination;
•Vacuum all surfaces including wall cavities using vacuums equipped with drywall bags and/or where appropriate or necessary, HEPA filters to remove drywall dust;
•Environmental inspector will verify the home is free of corrosion from drywall dust, corrosion and odor.


Read the latest headlines on Chinese drywall affecting homes in Lee County

1:10 P.M. — The settlement for a Chinese drywall manufacturer to establish a pilot fix-it program for 300 homeowners with tainted drywall doesn't go far enough and may actually leave homes unsafe, according to some experts and local homeowners.

The Oct. 14 settlement has been hailed as the first time a Chinese manufacturer has taken responsibility for its part in the drywall debacle.

Among the problems: The pilot program does not call for complete removal of all drywall, insulation, plumbing, electrical wiring and air conditioning system. Some drywall, such as moisture-resistant board, will remain, leaving questions as to whether cross contamination from the defective drywall also will remain.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the consolidated lawsuits negotiated the settlement with Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Ltd. (KPT), among other defendants. The agreement applies only to homeowners with 95 percent or more Knauf drywall.

Arnold Levin, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said the settlement provides for full renovation.

"In essence, everything that is infected will be removed," he said. "There is no worry about any residual contamination because the properties are going to be fully renovated and environmentally certified."

William Link of Cape Coral is among 56 Southwest Florida homeowners on the list, which includes 41 from Cape Coral, 11 from Fort Myers, two from Punta Gorda and one each from Lehigh Acres and Bokeelia.

"(The settlement) covers most of the guidelines, but there are loopholes in that thing," said William Link, a Cape Coral homeowner on the pilot program list. "My concerns are that we have a company that is dictating what they're going to do to fix it, but they are also the ones who caused the problem."

The gold standard protocol was established by federal Judge Eldon Fallon, who presided over about 10,000 consolidated drywall lawsuits in New Orleans.

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The pilot program calls for porous insulation to be removed and replaced. Non-porous will be repaired or replaced "as necessary." The air conditioning coils, thermostats and control boards will be replaced, but other elements may be cleaned or replaced "as needed."

"They're doing what we call 80 percent," said Michael Foreman, a forensic construction consultant and drywall expert based in Sarasota. "They're not doing a full job, and if saying they are following Judge Fallon's protocol, they are lying right off the bat."

Knauf will pay a lump sum based on $8.50 per square foot under air to cover relocation, expenses and property damage.

"Their detailed protocol doesn't seem to go far enough. It will be touted by people as something good, but it really isn't," said biochemist Michael D. Shaw, executive vice president of Interscan Corporation, a Los-Angeles based manufacturer of toxic gas detection instruments.

"It's better than nothing, but if that's the standards, then count me out," he said.

Gregory Wallance, a Knauf attorney, said in an e-mailed statement:

"The repairs made to the homes included in KPT's demonstration settlement will fully comply with the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) guidelines ... In effect, the homes are being restored to the condition they would have been in had the KPT drywall board not been installed."

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