golden ray oil spill

A shoreline clean-up team removes oil material from the beach near 9th Street public beach access on Sunday, August 1, 2021.

‘Significant’ Oil Spill at Golden Ray Wreck Site

Mike Schuler
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August 2, 2021

Pollution response teams are dealing with another “significant” oil spill from the Golden Ray car carrier in Georgia’s St. Simons Sound.

The Incident Response reports that the discharge occurred Saturday during weight-shedding operations on Section Six, which was separated from the wreck (but remains in place) on Friday.

The spill occurred inside the Environmental Protection Barrier, but oil escaped into the shipping channel as the tide ebbed.

An update on Monday said that oil has impacted marsh grasses, riprap and beach sand stretching from just south of King Creek to the Neptune Road public beach access on St. Simons Island. Shoreline clean-up teams on Sunday recovered oil from beaches along the south end of St. Simons Island.

“We have all assets deployed and are moving quickly to contain any dense oil which migrated beyond the EPB with the shifting tides,” said Incident Commander Chris Graff of Gallagher Marine Systems. “Our people have trained and equipment is prepared to ensure the protection of the people and environment of St. Simons Sound.”

Response vessels are directed by helicopter to collect oil which has entrained under the EPB. St. Simons Incident Response Photo.

Cutting of Section Six was completed on Friday and currently remains in place connected to the VB-10000. Approximately 25 response vessels equipped with oil skimmers, Current Busters and sorbent material were working to remove oil from inside the EPB and mitigate oil sheens in the vicinity of the wreck site. The section will be lifted and stowed onto a dry-dock barge once safe.

“We are very concerned about the impacted shorelines and have several clean up teams deployed using multiple techniques to remove oil from the beaches,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Efren Lopez, federal on-scene coordinator. “We urge the public to use beaches with caution if they are near an affected area.”

The National Transportation Safety Board last week opened the public docket for its ongoing investigation into the 2019 capsizing Golden Ray. The 656-foot vehicle carrier had a pilot and 23 crew members on board when it capsized suddenly during a turn as it departed the Port of Brunswick on September 8, 2019, coming to rest on a sand bar. All crew members and the pilot were rescued, including four crew members stuck in the engine room for more than a day following the capsizing.

Wreck removal involves cutting the wreck into eight sections for removal by barge. With the Section Six completed, one cut and two sections remain.

This weekend’s oil spill was at least the second significant spill that has escaped from the Environmental Protection barrier in the last month.

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