Feds file lawsuit to recover Alaska tugboat sinking costs

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JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The federal government is suing a Juneau sculptor to recover more than $2.5 million spent cleaning up after a decades-old tugboat sank.

CoastAlaska reports the Justice Department filed the lawsuit Thursday against R.D. Robinson.

The lawsuit claims Robinson took possession of the 96-foot Challenger, a World War II-era tugboat, with plans to use it as an artist studio. But the vessel's hull was deteriorated, and it sank in 2015.

The tugboat was recovered by the Coast Guard and towed away for disposal with Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund money.

The lawsuit says Robinson was billed more than $2.5 million but hasn't paid any of it.

Robinson could not be reached Friday for comment by The Associated Press. In 2016, he told the Juneau Empire the tugboat was never his.

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