Coast Guard: Challenger recovery may cost more

The tugboat Challenger has been raised from Gastineau Channel and is moored at the AJ Dock, but its path to the scrapheap isn’t over yet. Neither is the process of calculating the cost.

On Wednesday, Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Britany McKibben — a spokeswoman for the recovery effort — said the Coast Guard has increased the maximum bill for the recovery from $900,000 to $1.7 million.

That figure includes everything that has taken place since September, McKibben said, including the oil spill containment boom that surrounded the tugboat before it was lifted. Furthermore, McKibben said, the $1.7 million figure represents only a maximum, not what has already been spent or will be spent.

McKibben was unable to provide a figure for expenses to date, but in early February, a Coast Guard officer said $300,000 had been spent. At that time, the barge-crane Brightwater had not yet arrived in Juneau to begin lifting the Challenger.

Funding for the Challenger’s removal is coming from the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

Material from the derelict boat has been sent to a lab for testing that will determine the extent of lead paint, asbestos and other hazardous materials aboard. According to the latest disposal plan, those hazardous materials will be removed at the dock, whereupon the Challenger’s hulk will be towed to a beach at the Rock Dump, then broken up. The debris will end up in the Capitol Landfill.

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