The Unified Command overseeing the salvage of the Golden Ray car carrier is getting ready to literally dye the St. Simons Sound.
Crews will introduce the non-toxic, water-soluble dye into the water to determine just how far potential contaminants will travel within the St. Simons Sound waterway, giving experts an idea of how any potential oil discharges will spread when the Golden Ray is cut up.
The dye is the same fluorescein disodium salt commonly used in places like Tampa and Boston when they dye rivers in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. The natural color is orange-red to dark red, but the color of the dye to be used was not specified.
The dye testing is planned to take place on Tuesday, March 17, during the maximum ebb tide and again at the maximum flood tide the following day.
No significant lasting effects from the dye are anticipated, the Unified Command said.
“The use of this dye is important because it will allow us to see where we need to preposition oil spill response equipment in the most efficient way,” said Jason Maddox, a representative of Gallagher Marine Systems, which is representing the Golden Ray’s responsible party in the Unified Command. “Protection of the environment has always been a priority for the Unified Command, and we take it very seriously.”
The dye test is being conducted as a precaution despite an environmental barrier being built around the Golden Ray wreck to contain pollutants during the salvage.
The 656-foot Golden Ray was carrying about 4,200 vehicles when it lost stability and grounded in St. Simons Bay as it departed Georgia’s Port of Brunswick on 8 September 2019. All the vehicles remain trapped inside the inaccessible cargo holds.
To remove the wreck, salvors have opted to cut up the Golden Ray into eight sections using Versabar’s unique VB-10,000 heavy lifting vessel equipped with a large, diamond cutting chain. Once the cuts are made, each section – weighing 2,700 to 4,100 tons apiece – will be lifted onto a barge for transport to an off-site recycling facility.
The UC for the St. Simons Sound Incident Response is comprised of the Coast Guard as the federal on scene coordinator, the Georgia Department of Natural Resource (DNR) as the state on scene coordinator, and Gallagher Marine Services as the incident commander for the responsible party.