By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
Hermitage Municipal Authority members said they hope to resolve without having to go to court claims by three contractors for the water pollution control plant expansion that they are owed extra money because of delays in construction.
Meanwhile, plant workers expect to move sludge into the newly built anaerobic digesters this week, starting the process of the plant becoming an electricity generator, instead of just a power customer.
The authority met in executive session Wednesday to discuss possible litigation, but afterward members said they hope diplomacy with the three contractors who have submitted delay claims will work out.
“We want to resolve this amicably,” said authority manager Tom Darby.
The authority hired five main contractors in 2010 to undertake the $32 million expansion, and the contractors had to work with and around each other to expand the plant’s capacity, replace the chlorine disinfection with ultraviolet equipment and install the digestion system.
General contractor A.P. O’Horo Co. of Youngstown, Penn-Ohio Electric Co. of Masury, and Infilco Degrement Inc. of Richmond, Va., which provided the digestion equipment, submitted delay claims saying they had staff and equipment on-site ready to work at times but couldn’t because of other contractors.
O’Horo is seeking $191,6000, Penn-Ohio $116,850, and IDI, $60,000.
Darby recommended not paying those claims and asking for documentation to substantiate them. Officials said they received only the dollar requests without any explanation of the circumstances in which the alleged delays occurred.
Solicitor Thomas W. Kuster said officials should hold face-to-face meetings with the contractors after the documentation is received.
Plant workers have been working with contractors to water and pressure test the digestion equipment and are ready to put sludge into them this week, officials said.
Food waste could be put into them as early as next week.
It will take about two months to fill the tanks. Officials are not sure how long it will take for the cooking process of the sludge and food waste to produce a biogas that will be burned to produce electricity to sell to the electrical grid. An estimate given by contractors is three months, officials said.
The digestion process also will produce a high-quality sludge that officials plan to sell for fertilizer or fill.