Cost overruns and additional work orders have added $426,000 to the original $1.7 million cost of capping the Parkton Landfill in Baltimore County, officials say, a 25 percent increase.
The contract was awarded in September to PAVEX Inc. of Camp Hill, Pa. Since then the county has approved $156,000 in additional work and materials in response to "field conditions" encountered by the contractor, according to Steve Lippy, an engineer with the Bureau of Solid Waste. That's a cost overrun of about 9 percent.
On June 28, Public Works Director Gene L. Neff asked county Administrative Officer Merreen Kelly for permission to add another 16 percent, or about $270,000, to regrade landfill terraces, and to regrade and line downhill ditches -- all to minimize the generation of leachate, the rainwater that percolates through buried refuse.
The added work was necessary in part, Mr. Neff said, because county crews that had been scheduled to do some of the regrading work are busy preparing a new section at the Eastern Sanitary Landfill.
"Our first priority needs to be assuring the county's having sufficient landfilling capacity," he said.
County regulations normally require that overruns exceeding 20 percent of a contract's original cost be put out for competitive bidding. Mr. Neff's memo argued for permission to waive the bid process because "PAVEX is on-site, is familiar with the job and will be able to incorporate the additional tasks easily into their schedule.
"If we had to bid these additional tasks," he wrote, "it may cost more . . . and it would take substantially longer to complete the project [an estimated 10 months longer]."
Mr. Kelly said he approved the waiver, and County Council members raised no objections during the seven-day period allowed by law. The work will be paid for from bond revenues.
"I don't like to see [the added expense], but I certainly can understand it," Mr. Kelly said. The capping project is expected to be completed later this year, and costs are not expected to climb any higher.
The 217-acre Parkton Landfill, which closed in 1982, has long been the focus of concern among some of its neighbors, who say it is the source of ground-water contamination in the area. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently overseeing a site investigation to measure and identify the source of any pollution.
The county, which could be liable for the costs of a cleanup, contends the landfill is not the source of the pollution, and has appropriated $47,000 this year to pay private attorneys to monitor the EPA testing.