A reported spill of clay in the area around Fifth Street Beach in Greenport where PSEG subcontractors are working to complete installation of electric cables to serve Shelter Island’s need for reliable service had some residents concerned this week.
But the ombudsman hired by the Greenport Village Board to monitor the job and ensure there were no serious difficulties reported Tuesday morning a minor issue was rapidly dealt with by the crew with no concerns about environmental damage.
John Saladino, a long-time Village Board observer, was hired by Greenport to serve as ombudsman and respond to concerns residents might have about the project.
He said the final pipe to be pulled from Shelter Island to Greenport was about 300 feet from completion in its 2,900-foot route from Shelter Island when workers pulling it through the steel casing and drilling to secure it saw mud. They stopped the drilling and determined that there was not enough casing near the end to keep gravel and a bit of clay from kicking up.
The workers immediately surrounded the area with sandbags and called a specialist to inspect the situation and vacuum out the sea bottom that was only about two feet deep, Mr. Saladino said. The pipe was pulled back a few hundred feet and a new path through the tunnel to land was started to avoid the graveled area.
There is no concern about environmental damage, Mr. Saladino said. Nonetheless, when the project is completed, PSEG will remove all the sand in the disturbed area where the work has been done and replace it with sand clean from any contaminants.
“So far everything seems good,” Mr. Saladino said.
PSEG-LI spokeswoman Brooke Houston confirmed Mr. Saladino’s account.
A resident called Mr. Saladino Monday evening, but it took a little more than an hour for the ombudsman to determine the situation and respond. In the interim, the caller posted a query about what was happening on a website run by Village Trustee Mary Bess Phillips. Had he waited for a response, he would have known what happened and known there was no reason for concern, Mr. Saladino said.
He also noted that only three people in the Village — Mayor George Hubbard, Village Administrator Paul Pallas and Mr. Saladino as ombudsman — know what is happening with the project because they are directly monitoring it.
He said most neighbors along Fifth Street have expressed their surprise to him about how little disturbance they have experienced from the project that has been underway since October 2017.
Work in both Greenport and Shelter Island has gone smoothly and neighbors have been kept aware of the few traffic delays or other issues throughout the life of the project.
With the minor issue that occurred this week, neighbors received notices from PSEG telling them about the minor problem that had occurred, what had been done to remediate it and where work stands now, Mr. Saladino said.
The project is to be completed by mid May and Greenport’s contract with PSEG calls for a payment of $1,000 a day should the project run over the deadline. But Mr. Saladino said based on the work that has already been completed, he wouldn’t be surprised if the project was completed earlier.