The tugboat Lumberman is seen aground in Gastineau Channel on Monday, May 21, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire photo)

The tugboat Lumberman is seen aground in Gastineau Channel on Monday, May 21, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire photo)

Agencies meet on tug move

DNR to pursue legal avenues after team secures boat

Federal, state and municipal agencies are working together to remove the Lumberman, a 200-ton World War II era tug stuck in the Gastineau Channel. Removing the derelict vessel is the responsibility of the state, but other agencies are helping to coordinate a plan.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, representatives from the USCG, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Alaska Department of Law, City and Borough of Juneau and the Army Corps of Engineers met Friday to discuss the boat’s removal.

“This is a complex case involving multiple jurisdictions, however, all agencies are working together to come to an effective resolution,” said Capt. Stephen White, the Coast Guard captain of the Juneau port. “I appreciate the leadership and engagement of all parties as we continue to work through this. While the Coast Guard has exhausted its jurisdictional authority in this case, I can honestly say that each agency is actively engaged and aligned in ensuring the environment and the maritime infrastructure is protected.”

The Lumberman’s anchor line broke loose in May. It drifted then from city jurisdiction to DNR’s jurisdictional tidelands.

The USCG doesn’t have jurisdiction over the vessel, but White, Coast Guard captain of the Juneau port, said they’re discussing removal options with other agencies. According to the USCG, the team will focus on securing the tug in a safe location while DNR pursues legal avenues with the owner and other agencies to facilitate the tug’s safe removal.

The agencies boarded the vessel in October of last year, and determined that it was a “substantial” pollution risk. In January, after meeting with the tug’s owner, the agencies secured funding from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. The OSLTF is a federal fund used for responding to actual or potential pollution incidents.

All pollution sources were removed from the vessel with the exception of a small gas can used by the owner to run his heater.

The change in jurisdiction from CBJ to DNR complicated the Lumberman’s removal. In February, CBJ enacted a new ordinance giving CBJ Docks and Harbors authority over vessels anchored on CBJ submerged lands. The CBJ proceedings were interrupted by the vessel dragging anchor out of the CBJ jurisdictional submerged lands and into DNR’s jurisdictional tidelands.

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