Tugboat dismantling winding down in Juneau

The operation to raise and dismantle the old tug Challenger is winding down in Juneau.

“The Challenger is gone,” said Coast Guard Commander Patrick Hilbert. “This is the remnants of the hull. The metal parts are disposed of.”

After it was raised from the bottom of Gastineau Channel in Juneau last month, the World War Two era tug was towed to the A-J cruise ship dock for removal of hazardous materials. The vessel was just demolished by excavators on a beach south of the rock dump.

Hilbert says all 150 tons of woody debris were taken to the Juneau landfill.

Over 430 gallons of petroleum products like oil and fuel were removed from the old tug. Contractors also removed over a ton of lead acid batteries and nearly 29-hundred pounds of materials containing asbestos.

“Between the oil and the haz mat, we did the right thing to take this action to remove it from Gastineau Channel and remove that environmental threat from the wetlands and the salmon hatchery,” Hilbert said.

Hazardous materials were transported to city’s hazardous materials disposal facility while petroleum products were properly disposed by Southeast Alaska Lighterage.

The 2-million dollar cost of the six-week long operation is expected to be covered by the national Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

The 96-foot tug was later turned into a bunk-and-breakfast in Seattle. Recently, it served as a violin studio and home for a Juneau family until it was sold over a year ago.

The current owner of the tug declined to cooperate with authorities after it sank last