Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando commission hears one side in beach dredging delay

BROOKSVILLE — The contractor for the ill-fated Hernando Beach dredge project had a simple answer Friday to the county's demand that it fix major problems and get the machinery moving again: It's not our job.

Peter Buchler, executive vice president and general counsel for Orion Dredging Services LLC, instead blamed the project's consultant during a special meeting with the County Commission.

Buchler said a de­watering device designed by consultant Halcrow did not work, just one of several issues that have stalled the long-awaited project for weeks.

Halcrow officials were at the meeting, but chose not to respond. They will present their side of the situation to the commission at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

An entourage of Orion executives accompanied Buchler, who gave a 40-minute presentation about what has happened up to this point. He explained the dredging process designed by Halcrow, which was set in the permit the county obtained from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

By showing portions of the permit language and parts of Orion's contract with Hernando, he pointed out that Orion was hired to do a particular form of dredge. Called a hydraulic dredge, it requires a mechanical dewatering device to remove the solid materials from the water dredged up from the channel.

But that device, known as a Del Tank, did not filter enough of the sediment out of the water to meet the water-quality standards in the DEP permit, Buchler said.

He said that to meet those standards, a coagulant would have to be added to settle the solids in the water, and settling ponds would need to be added. Neither of those procedures are addressed in the DEP permit, he said.

In a letter to Orion last week, the county demanded that Orion get a new plan designed, signed and sealed by an engineer and sent through the DEP so that the dredging, stalled since January, could resume.

But Buchler said the contract Orion signed with the county is a "build contract" rather than a "design and build contract.'' Responsibility for the design, which he called "flawed," rests solely with Halcrow.

Besides, he said, Orion doesn't sign and seal designs and has no license to do so. By its own marketing strategy, the company doesn't want to compete with engineers with whom it wants to maintain good working relationships.

Orion, Buchler explained, complied with its contract. The existing, permitted plan to de-water the spoils doesn't work, he added, but it is not up to Orion to devise a plan that does work.

"We're locked in. Our hands are tied. We have no discretion,'' Buchler said. "Why? Because it's not our responsibility.''

He said the county has two choices: Go after either Halcrow or Orion legally for not fulfilling their contracts, or have all parties work together to find a solution.

He suggested the latter.

"Our part of this mess we're all in is constructing the final facility,'' Buchler said. "We believe that we can, in fact, construct a facility that meets these proposed changes'' with adding the coagulant and settling ponds.

Such a permit modification, however, would be a "significant, radical modification.''

Until a fix can be presented to the DEP and the agency signs off, dredging cannot resume.

The county awarded the $5 million bid to Orion in late May and the firm began dredging rock on Oct. 6. On Dec. 4, Orion began the second phase of dredging to get the sand and silt out of the channel. That is when the problem with the sediment in the water was discovered.

Assistant county attorney Jeff Kirk questioned Orion officials about whether they had tried a different size of Del Tank to dewater the dredge slurry or other equipment offered by Del Tank. But Curtis Huggins, Orion Dredging Services president, said a representative of Del Tank told him this was the right model and that they would need to use a coagulant.

While Halcrow officials didn't want to make a presentation Friday, Commissioner Dave Russell said he wanted to know how their calculations to determine how much filtering would need to happen to clean the water to the proper standard could be so wrong.

Todd Stockberger, senior vice president for Halcrow responded: "Mechanical de-watering should be able to do this.'' He promised to bring back more answers on Tuesday.

Commission Chairman John Druzbick summed up the session at the end of Friday's meeting.

"I'm really sorry it's come to this point,'' he said. "Let's make this work. … The bottom line to this board is this has to work.''

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Agenda

Two big issues face delays

While Halcrow Inc., the consultant for the Hernando Beach dredge, will present its case to the County Commission on Tuesday, two other major issues that had been set for Tuesday's commission meeting have been postponed.

• The name-clearing hearing for Charles Mixson, the county's former public works director, had to be rescheduled because Mixson's attorney had a conflict.

• A discussion of Sheriff Richard Nugent's proposal for taking over the county jail has been delayed because not all of the necessary information has been gathered so far.

Hernando commission hears one side in beach dredging delay 04/09/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 9, 2010 8:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Sen. Bill Nelson ready to campaign on GOP failure to fix Obamacare

    State Roundup

    For years, Sen. Bill Nelson has faced a steady barrage of partisan attacks over the Affordable Care Act, but as he begins the 2018 re-election campaign, the Democrat stands to benefit from a flipped script:

     U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson talks to local residents about the Affordable Care Act  at the Sam Gibbons Federal Courthouse in Tampa, Florida on July 3. )OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times)
  2. Tiger Bay panel: End permanent revocation of voting rights for convicted felons

    Local

    TAMPA – A panel of elected officials and advocates including Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren argued in a forum Friday that Florida should end its practice of permanently revoking the voting rights of people convicted of felonies.

    Rep. Sean Shaw, D- Tampa, on the floor of the Florida House.[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  3. Temple Terrace Citizen of Year skips his awards banquet in protest of Confederate event

    Politics

    TEMPLE TERRACE — Travis Malloy was supposed to show up to the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club on Thursday to pick up his Citizen of the Year award at the Chamber of Commerce banquet.

    Instead, Malloy stayed away in protest.

    Travis Malloy declined to collect his Citizen of the Year award at the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club on Thursday to protest the club's decision to host a Southern Heritage event with a War on the South program Sept. 2. Malloy was honored for starting community gardens and a farmers market. [Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce]
  4. Editorial: Making tax increases harder would sentence Florida to mediocrity

    Editorials

    Florida has one of the lowest state tax burdens in the nation, a long list of unmet needs and a Republican-controlled state government that treats any talk of a tax increase as heresy. Yet Gov. Rick Scott wants voters to approve a constitutional amendment to make it even harder for the Legislature to raise taxes. That's …

    Gov. Rick Scott wants voters to approve a constitutional amendment to make it even harder for the Legislature to raise taxes. That’s election-year pandering, not leadership.
  5. What happens if you look at the eclipse without glasses? Want a hole in your vision?

    Science

    It's the burning question of the week.

    The solar eclipse Monday will be quite the Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson moment for Americans to share. The idea is to walk away without frying your eyeballs.

    Colton Hammer tries out his new eclipse glasses he just bought from the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City on Wednesday in preparation for the eclipse on Monday. [Scott G Winterton | Deseret News via AP]