EPA update on salvage, cleanup of M/V Challenger

Aug 15, 2015

As of Thursday, vessel and barge still sit sunk on the Nushagak River. EPA says salvage will be complicated.

The M/V Challenger and barge overturned and sunk in the shallow waters of the Nushagak River last Sunday. The EPA has oversight of cleanup and salvage, and provided an update Thursday afternoon.
Credit photo taken Thursday

At about 3 p.m. Sunday,  a tug and barge operated by Ridge Contracting overturned coming down the Nushagak River. The vessels sunk in the shallow water. The barge was loaded with scrapped vehicles from New Stuyahok being shipped out. The two men onboard the M/V Challenger were picked up hours later by Fish and Game biologists traveling down river during what they reported to be extremely windy conditions.  

According to Ridge, the vessel had about 100 gallons of fuels onboard at the time it sank. Witnesses on the river tell KDLG News the sheen and smell of fuels has gotten worse through the week. The Coast Guard had initial oversight of the cleanup and salvage, but turned that over midweek to the Environmental Protection Agency, which claimed jurisdiction in that location. 

EPA Federal On-Scene Coordinator Bob Whittier spoke with KDLG's Dave Bendinger Thursday afternoon for an update. This interview originally aired on the August 14 Bristol Bay and Beyond