BROOKSVILLE — BCPeabody, the contractor for the Hernando Beach Channel dredge, has been fined $10,000 by state environmental regulators for violating its state permit.
The fine was the result of a spot inspection last week by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection after a complaint from a resident. An inspector found that the dredging equipment was not surrounded by a turbidity curtain, which keeps sediment stirred up by the dredging process from filtering into surrounding waters.
The DEP issued a letter of warning to the company after the inspection and asked for an explanation and a meeting with county and BCPeabody representatives.
"I determined that as our dredging production has increased, the turbidity curtain crews have had a difficult time keeping pace with the forward advance of the excavators,'' BCPeabody owner Robert Carpenter wrote in his response.
Last week, some equipment failed, and the crews continued work without the curtains.
"Our folks made the wrong decision,'' Carpenter wrote. "They should have ceased dredging until the curtain was re-established.''
Carpenter explained that he stopped work for 48 hours; inspected, repaired and reinstalled the curtains, and increased the resources assigned to the turbidity crews. He also retrained employees to "make sure they clearly understand the requirements of the FDEP permit and that no dredging operations are to be conducted unless and until those requirements can be met.''
Company officials have agreed to pay the fine and follow the provisions of the permit.
The DEP also has notified the county that its request for a permit extension until June 30 has been granted.
Earlier this week, the County Commission agreed to allow BCPeabody to reach "substantial completion" by Dec. 31 and final completion by Jan. 31.
Previously, the contract required BCPeabody to complete the entire job by Dec. 31, DEP's last deadline, or begin paying a $5,000-a-day penalty. Now, the damages would be paid to the county only if BCPeabody does not reach substantial completion by Dec. 31.
The commission also voted to make BCPeabody's contract a lump-sum contract for $8.7 million.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.