City terminates contract with catch basin cleaning contractor

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The City of New Orleans has fired the company it hired to clean 15,000 catch basins in 120 days.

RAMJ construction was awarded the $7 million contract and began working on Sept. 6. On Sept. 15, the city contacted the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

"They were primarily asking us about the correct procedure to dispose of materials that's removed from the catch basins and canals," said Greg Langley of the DEQ.

The DEQ found that RAMJ improperly disposed of trash it collected from catch basins and didn't have the amount of trucks it claimed it did from the beginning.

"The type of landfill that can receive this material is determined by what this material is. Originally, we were told that the majority of the material would be gravel and sand," Langley said.

Langley said the first couple of loads RAMJ took to the landfill were rejected because of the liquid content in them.

"They did manage to get a couple of loads to the landfill, and later our inspectors went out to examine the loads to see if they should be there or not. They found it was just too much household waste in them," he said.

The waste, he said, should have gone to what's known as a Type 1 landfill. Langley also said it's believed the company made at least 10 loads, but the DEQ only knows where two of them ended up.

At the time of the bid, RAMJ expressed to the city that it had access to 20 vacuum trucks, when it only had five trucks working on the street. The DEQ also discovered that only one of those trucks was capable of decanting, or extracting liquid from solid waste before dumping.

"So, we asked if maybe they could acquire some more trucks with that capability. At first, we were told they would, and later we were told they weren't able to," Langley said.

The DEQ consulted with the city, and RAMJ was immediately directed to stop performing work. The city said the goal of the contract was to complete 125 catch basins a day, but after 11 days of work, RAMJ had only cleaned 347 catch basins.

According to the Secretary of State records, Roy Madere Jr. is a registered officer of RAMJ, which as a domicile address on Martin Behrman with a mailing address on Williams Boulevard in Kenner.

So far, no one from RAMJ has responded to our request for an interview.

The city has since awarded a new contract to Compliance Envirosystems.

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