Pacific Pile & Marine is seeking $1 million from the Haines Borough, claiming the sea floor was harder than described in bid documents for dredging operations for the harbor expansion project.

Pacific Pile & Marine notified the borough on July 25 of the potential for differing site conditions after experiencing dredging delays. The contractor complained of equipment wear due to the hard material.

PND Engineers analyzed the site conditions for a geotechnical report that was used to determine the expense of the project.

In Pacific Pile & Marine’s letter to the Haines Borough, Project Manager Andrew Romine wrote that workers never found any areas in two dredging zones that were consistent with the “contract document representations.”

“Rather, all materials were extremely hard – as hard as rock according to PPM’s geotechnical consultant,” Romine wrote.

Romine also wrote that the harder site conditions cost the company more in labor and equipment.

Pacific Pile & Marine estimated the increase in its equipment costs at $666,179 and labor costs at $326,757.

Borough manager Debra Schnabel and public facilities director Brad Ryan will meet with PND on Thursday to determine what the borough’s response will be.

“That is something we are going to negotiate, whether or not we think that claim has any validity or not,” Schnabel told the borough assembly Tuesday evening.

PND vice president Dick Somerville said they’ll have 30 days to review Pacific Pile & Marine’s report, should the borough direct them. Somerville said when they first saw the $1 million cost analysis from Pacific Pile & Marine, “We thought ‘Oh wow that’s a pretty big number’ so we’ll see if there’s merit or not,” Somerville said.

The borough has $1.8 million left from the $20 million in state grants for the project along with a little less than $500,000 in contingency fees, Ryan said.

In related news, the Alaska Department of Labor is investigating Pacific Pile & Marine for being out of compliance for requirements to certify payroll for 20 weeks and not meeting the Alaska Preference Law, a law, which requires contractors to hire 90 percent of its laborers from Alaska if a project is funded by the state.

Department of Labor supervisor Joe Dunham said the agency is currently investigating the anonymous complaint.

“In a sense they’re allegations,” Dunham said. “Nothing is for sure because they have the right, the due process to respond. We’ve asked for certain records and we’re compiling an investigation.”

Dunham wouldn’t comment on whether the complaint came from Haines or if it was related to the Small Boat Harbor project.

Schnabel said the Department of Labor investigated the Alaska Preference Law complaint and asked to see the company’s certified payroll.

“Then they realize the certified payroll hadn’t been submitted,” Schnabel said.

Schnabel told the borough assembly that PPM’s crane broke down earlier this week, which set the pile driving back several days. It was not related to the bottom being too hard, she said.