COAL TOWNSHIP - Township officials lashed out Tuesday at the contractor on a water company project on the west side.

Solicitor Vincent Rovito accused Michael F. Ronca & Sons Inc. of "fraud" when speaking of the results of compaction tests on backfilled trenches where new water main piping was installed.

"That is fraud. That's a criminal act," Rovito said during a workshop session of the township commissioners. "The only thing those reports prove is that somebody can write."

A representative of Ronca & Sons, Bethlehem, said he was "completely unaware" of any problems with the project and was confused as to why Coal Township had anything to say when they have little jurisdiction over it.

"The installation is being inspected by Aqua PA and their consultants," said the spokesman, who would not provide his name.

A spokesperson for Aqua Pa., Donna Alston, stated on behalf of the company that "the compaction testing being done by Ronca & Sons Inc. complies with PennDOT standards."

Township manager Rob Slaby, contacted Wednesday to clarify, said the implication is the company might not have properly conducted the work to "save money or time."

At the meeting, Commissioner George Zalar said the township could demand that tests be done in the company of the township's code enforcement officer, Chris Petrovich, and roadmaster, William Kuzmick.

If they don't comply, Rovito said the commissioners should revoke Ronca's permits.

Ronca is under contract with Aqua Pennsylvania for a $1.8 million water main replacement project in Shamokin and Coal Township dubbed the "Oak Street project." It began in November and involves the replacement of 6,700 feet of cast-iron pipes with new ductile-iron pipes.

Ronca is also the general contractor on the construction of the new sewer plant for Shamokin-Coal Township Joint Sewer Authority.

Construction began late last year on North Second Street near the Cameron Bridge and will also involve the following streets: Second Street to West Walnut, Walnut to North Oak, Oak to West Spruce, Spruce to South Maple, Maple to West Gowen, Gowen to South Oak, Maple to West Pine, Pine to South Oak and Oak to Mulberry.

The project has reached Oak Street and now extends south to Spruce Street. A significant portion of the road has been dug up, creating a bumpy ride for motorists.

The company didn't get into the actual township portion until about three weeks ago, Slaby said.

Commissioner Gene Welsh asked Slaby to look into the cost of conducting independent compaction tests.

"I know we're going to be in litigation. We're going to be suing them for all these streets," Welsh said.

While Rovito said the firm is violating township ordinance, Slaby said their standards actually exceed the township's, "but they're not sticking to them."