12/18/2014 02:15 EST | Updated 02/17/2015 05:59 EST

Federal government sues boat owner for $1.6M cost of raising, cleaning up sunken vessel

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The federal government is suing the owner of a 117-foot boat that sank in a commercial fishing port in Alaska and was cleaned up at public expense.

KTUU-TV reports ( the government seeks $1.6 million from John Mehelich, who later appeared as a gold dredge captain on the Discovery Channel show "Bering Sea Gold."

The 147-ton vessel sank in August 2009 at its mooring in Cordova Harbor, about 150 miles east of Anchorage. The lawsuit says the boat leaked more than 450 gallons of fuel and oils.

The document alleges Mehelich hired a company to raise and clean up the vessel but then cut off contact with the business. The federal government assumed the cleanup and alleges Mehelich has refused to reimburse it.

The lawsuit lists no attorney for Mehelich, and directory assistance listed no phone number for him in Nome.


Information from: KTUU-TV,