Pacific Pile and Marine filed a second claim with the Haines Borough alleging the sea floor is harder than was described in PND Engineers’ analysis of the harbor basin.

The contractor notified the borough of its first claim in July and later provided an estimate of the costs associated with dredging, which was $1 million more than described in bid documents.

Last week, PPM notified the borough of differing site conditions where it’s been driving pilings for the steel wall wave barrier. The contractor has two months to provide PND Engineers with evidence supporting its claim. PPM supplied similar evidence to the borough in its first claim and PND Engineers will release its response to those claims on Nov. 15.

In an interview with the CVN, PND Engineers Vice President Dick Somerville said PND will try to respond before the deadline, but he wouldn’t comment on the details until it’s officially released.

During Tuesday’s regular assembly meeting Borough Manager Debra Schnabel informed the assembly of PPM’s new claim. Assembly member Tom Morphet said he had “profound concern” about the claims. Morphet said the borough assembly approved the steel wall breakwater design because PND Engineer’s technical reports indicated the ground was too soft for a rubble mound breakwater, which cost more in the short-run, but was what many in the community supported.

“I think we need to have a very frank discussion maybe with our engineers and with our contractor and maybe even bring in some third party because this was a terribly divisive debate in our community,” Morphet said. “If what we’re hearing is that the basis of our decision was faulty information or wrong information then I think we need to have a full airing of this, as painful as that might be.”

Assembly member Brenda Josephson asked Borough Manager Debra Schnabel whether or not PND convinced the borough to “work into the design their own patented steel breakwater?”

Schnabel said PND “convinced us that was the thing we had to do.”

Somerville said PND has no patent on the steel breakwater wall designed for the small boat harbor project and does not profit from its use in the project aside from design fees.

“There’s no patent on the wall and there’s no proceeds of any sort that goes to PND as a result of contractors using the wall,” Somerville said. “There’s no compensation to PND of any sort in terms of royalties or things like that.”

Assembly member Heather Lende questioned whether or not it was appropriate to halt the project before spending more money on driving pilings in ground that’s too hard.

Schnabel said it’s the borough’s job to challenge PPM’s claims.

“We don’t know what their business plan was,” Schnabel said. “We don’t know if they had the correct equipment on the job. We don’t know if the equipment is functioning properly. There could be all kinds of reasons why things aren’t working well for them. To assume at this point in time that it’s an impossible job, I don’t think we can take that position.”

Schnabel said no matter what, PPM’s claims are going to result in a more expensive project.

“Is it going to cost money? Yes,” Schnabel said. “It’s going to cost money but I think we are still going to see the harbor completed as designed.”

Schnabel said she doesn’t know if the borough will be liable for those increased costs, and is looking into whether or not an insurance policy exists for such circumstances.