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California firm gets cleanup contract for Fire Island Sandy debris

Streets of Ocean Beach on Fire Island were

Streets of Ocean Beach on Fire Island were flooded by superstorm Sandy. (Oct. 31, 2012) Credit: Daniel Goodrich

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced the winner of a post-superstorm-Sandy Fire Island debris cleanup contract -- again.

The agency announced Thursday that California-based Environmental Chemical Corp. has become the latest firm to win the much-debated contract to remove storm debris from the barrier island -- for $10.1 million under Advanced Contracting Initiative protocol.

Initially, the job was supposed to go to a small, Suffolk-based company under Stafford Act guidelines, but after awarding the contract twice and withdrawing it twice due to various protests, the Army Corps decided to change course. ACI allows the Corps to hire a previously approved contractor.

“We tried you know, twice, and each time were hit with protests, so we went to the ACI program,” spokeswoman Marilyn Phipps said. “There’s still the urgent and compelling need to get the debris off the island, and this gave us an alternative method of doing that.”

The end-of-March deadline to remove debris is looming, and Environmental Chemical will be required to begin work within 48 hours of the announcement of its award, Phipps said. Environmental Chemical is also required to hire 82 percent local labor to complete the job.

A spokesman for the California company said there is already a plan in place to hire locally.

“This is largely a subcontracted effort to local Suffolk County businesses identified prior to the award,” he said. “We’ve been working with them all week, we’ve been in their offices. It’s well under way.” He declined to name local companies that would receive subcontracting work, saying arrangements hadn’t been finalized.

Before awarding the contract, Phipps said, the Army Corps moved to dismiss an agency protest submitted Tuesday by Islip-based Quintal Contracting Corp, which bid $14 million on the job originally.

“If this is the case, if they’re going this route, shame on the Army Corps for putting this out to bid,” said Quintal owner Anthony Quintal. “We were told by different sources that when the bid initially went out, they were going to probably disqualify all the locals and go to ACI anyway. How true that is, we don’t know.”

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