Concrete tester sues DOB over license

By David Jones | January 08, 2010 06:25PM

The city’s Department of Buildings is facing litigation from concrete testing company Big Apple Testing, a Queens-based firm whose license renewal was denied last September amid a citywide crackdown on concrete testing standards.

Big Apple Testing filed a so-called Article 78 suit against the buildings department Monday, asking the court for an injunction that would reinstate its concrete testing license or compel the agency to hold a hearing on the case.

Stuart Klein, attorney for Big Apple Testing, said no legitimate reason was given for the license denial, and speculated that the buildings department is looking to secretly weed out certain firms to cover for a widening scandal about construction defects.

“They’re being cute,” Klein said. “They look for guys that are coming up for renewal and say, ‘we won’t renew your license.’ There appears to be no presentation of evidence and you’re effectively boxing against shadows.”

Court filings show that Big Apple had been licensed to test concrete for more than 18 years, involving thousands of sites per year. The firm has annual revenue of more than $900,000. Klein did not have specific details about previous projects the firm worked on.

A formal hearing is scheduled for Jan. 20.

Gus Sirakis, deputy director of the DOB Office of Technical Certification and research, originally contacted the firm in November 2008, instructing the firm to cease all concrete testing work, even though the firm had requested the renewal the prior month, court documents show.

Buildings department officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Just two days before Big Apple’s license renewal was denied, the buildings department announced a major program to raise oversight of concrete testing around the city.

On Sept. 2, the city announced plans to create a new concrete testing lab in the Bronx and said it would create a new concrete testing unit at the agency, part of an overall plan to retest 82 buildings and construction sites around the city.

The city plan followed the indictment of another concrete testing company, Testwell Laboratories, for allegedly falsifying concrete testing documents at sites across the city. In December, Testwell, along with four of its top executives, went on trial for allegedly falsifying concrete safety reports at more than 100 projects around the city, including the new Yankee Stadium and the Freedom Tower site at the former World Trade Center.

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