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Ocean County Revisits Debris Firm’s Potentially Costly Mileage Reports

Discrepancy Could Cost $500,000 More Than Expected
Pile of debris from superstorm Sandy on a lawn in Long Beach, N.Y. - Nov. 20, 2012 (credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Pile of debris from superstorm Sandy on a lawn in Long Beach, N.Y. – Nov. 20, 2012 (credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Superstorm Sandy

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP)Ocean County officials are asking a monitoring firm to verify the mileage of debris contractors hired to clean up after superstorm Sandy.

Officials have raised concerns that many trips from temporary storage debris areas to landfills were exactly or just over 16 miles. That distance is the threshold for 30 percent higher hauling costs under the county’s contract with debris firm Ashbritt Environmental of Deerfield Beach, Fla.

It’s slightly less than 16 miles to the landfill, so a lot of the numbers at or right over that distance are being questioned.

The county has asked the Louis Berger Group to verify the mileage already approved by another monitor, Arcadis.

“We will do everything possible to make sure our clients are satisfied with the work that we’ve done,” Deborah Havins with Arcadis told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney.

Arcadis is monitoring debris removal in two Ocean County towns. Louis Berger is covering the rest, but did not reply for a request to comment.

The potentially inflated mileage numbers stand to cost about a half million dollars more than expected, Putney reported.

“It’s just not an exact science,” Havins told Putney. “We’ve got trees down, we’ve got roads that are impassable, bridges that might be out.”

The debris haulers have taken hundreds of trips to the Ocean County landfill.

“We work for our clients, for the cities that our hiring us, who want to make sure that the information is accurate and that they’re paying and being reimbursed properly,” Havins added. “We don’t work for the haulers, it does us no good to inflate the numbers.”

Arcadis says it used Google Maps to calculate distances, and that the search engine’s software gave inconsistent results.

“We know that these things are not fool-proof,” Havins told Putney.

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