Am I oversimplifying, or what?  After so many reports of cracking sounds and spalling in the condo that tragically collapsed in Surfside, FL, it’s probably no surprise to structural engineers that there was concrete deterioration. And this can be due to rusting rebar.

I’m sure Basanite Industries (OTCQB:BASA), a Florida company that ironically manufactures a rust-proof rebar called BasaFlex™ only a few miles north in the next county from where the disaster occurred must be thinking that. 

Could a more durable, eco-friendly, sustainable, 100-year life building material that’s stronger and significantly lighter than steel have prevented this nightmarish tragedy?

BasaFlex is an enhanced Basalt Fiber Reinforced Polymer Rebar engineered as a non-corrosive alternative to conventional steel reinforcement for concrete structures.  So, could a rust-resistant rebar have saved all those lives?

It’s such a shame this had to happen to so many in Florida where I live in a high- rise condo on the ocean not that far north from the disaster.  I just hope the determination to find out exactly what caused this tragedy won’t corrode over time, but stay strong, dogged and resilient.   

Meanwhile, news media are citing a 2018 inspection report finding “abundant” cracking and spalling of the columns, beams and walls in the garage under the tower that fell to the ground last week killing nine people with 156 still missing.  Was it rust that did it?

Spalling refers to the deterioration of concrete, sometime causing flaking and the exposure of reinforcing steel bars known as rebar. 

According to a structural field survey report, there apparently was abundant cracking and spalling of varying degrees observed in the concrete columns, beams and walls of the ground floor parking garage.  The report included photos of parking garage columns in which the concrete had cracked off and rebar could be seen in a condition described as a form of cancer.


Professional engineers who specialize in concrete repair projects believe after watching the Surfside condo tower collapsing to rubble, one potential structural flaw jumped out at them called concrete spalling.

One engineer was quoted in news reports saying when saltwater seeps into porous concrete, it causes the reinforced steel rods known as rebar in the support beams to rust and expand. In turn, the expansion breaks up the concrete, weakening the beams. 

So why not build with a rust-proof rebar, the type Basanite makes, to avoid a condition akin to a “concrete cancer” spreading and killing people?

When the cancer spreads, it’s like a domino effect whereby concrete breaks up and becomes weaker as time goes by, so if one column is subjected to spalling, it could fail and that one beam could bring down the whole building.

‘Concrete deterioration’ at Champlain Towers South

A 2018, inspection report noted that approximately 8% of the concrete slabs in the garage and building plaza had experienced “concrete deterioration.” In addition, about 5% of the balcony structural floor slabs showed hairline cracking.

The report also found additional spalling or cracking in a small percentage of concrete columns and exterior walls. One column contained a wide crack, defined as more than 2 millimeters, and that the waterproofing membranes were “beyond their useful life” and needed to be replaced. It further noted that the pool and Jacuzzi were leaking and needed to be removed and all cracking or spalling concrete repaired.

Also, it appeared the concrete framed slab that had supported the plaza/pool above the garage had undergone previous patching and crack repair.  Hmmmmmm!

I feel so sorry for the victims, whose families and loved ones deserve answers as to what actually caused this collapse in the middle of the night when all were no doubt asleep.

This article also was published in CommPRO.biz https://www.commpro.biz/if-building-collapse-when-rebar-rusts-why-not-build-with-rust-proof-rebar/    

Besides an inveterate blogger, Tom Madden is an author of countless published articles and five books, including his latest, WORDSHINE MAN, available this summer on Amazon.   He is the founder and CEO of TransMedia Group, an award-winning public relations firm serving clients worldwide since 1981 and has conducted remarkably successful media campaigns and crisis management for America’s largest companies and organizations.