Agency identifies rogue cement sourced from Lafarge plant

Agency identifies rogue cement sourced from Lafarge plant
Published: 22 March 2005

The UK Highways Agency, which manages and operates England’s motorways and trunk roads, became aware in the third week of January of potential problems with cement supplied by Lafarge Cement UK from their plant at Westbury in Wiltshire.  Lafarge have told the Agency that the affected cement was supplied over a two-year period and had alkali levels higher than those declared at the time of manufacture.   Since then the Agency has met with Lafarge to discuss the implications, and has identified where the affected cement may have been used in concrete supplied for the construction of any part of the Agency’s infrastructure.  

A number of locations, all in the South of England, where quantities of the cement were used in highway structures have been identified and a list is attached. Other minor uses of affected concrete are still being investigated.  At present the Agency’s investigations indicate there are no concerns for safety. We are aware that there is a risk in the future of alkali silica reaction (ASR) due to the higher alkali levels present in the affected cement, but ASR is a relatively slow process usually taking several years to manifest itself.   The Highways Agency is continuing its investigations and is in touch with the construction industry and the concrete sector in particular to ensure that this kind of incident can be avoided in the future.