Monday, February 8, 2016

DEP sticks with no comment on contractor snafu

By Adam Wisnieski

More than two months after the electrical contractor at the Croton Water Filtration Plant paid a $10 million fine for failing to have a master electrician on site, the Department of Environmental Protection still refuses to comment on the case.

The DEP was expected to break its silence about the fraud at last week’s Croton Filtration Monitoring Committee meeting, and also to answer questions about how the filtration plant would function without a backup power source. Both items were on CFMC’s meeting agenda. 

But Shane Ojar, who represents the DEP at the meetings, said the DEP is still in the process of drafting a response.

“It’s just a process,” he said. “It’s unfortunately taking a little longer than we had hoped.”

This did not sit well with monitoring committee chair Bob Fanuzzi, who also serves as chair of Community Board 8.

“That was a slap in the face,” Mr. Fanuzzi said. “I’ve never had an agenda item cancelled by an agency the day of a meeting ever in all my years of work in the community.”

In January, Schlesinger-Siemens Electrical, LLC, which changed its name to Siemens Electrical, LLC in 2012, paid $10 million to settle with the city for violating an electrical code that requires electrical companies doing business with the city to have a licensed master electrician on the job. Shortly after the settlement was made, the Croton Filtration Monitoring Committee asked the DEP about it at a meeting, but DEP would not comment. 

“I’ve never seen an agency pull up short two consecutive meetings and have nothing to offer,” Mr. Fanuzzi said, adding that he’s “steamed” at the DEP.

Mr. Fanuzzi drafted a letter to DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland after not receiving a response from the DEP during the first go-round in late January. Mr. Fanuzzi and members of the Croton Filtration Monitoring Committee want to know more about the DEP’s oversight of contractors and to make sure the work being performed on the $3 billion plant is up to par.

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