Fuel Lightering Continues for Grounded Ro/Ro Golden Ray

Response crew sprays sphagnum moss sorbent onto oil-contaminated marshland, October 8 (USCG)

By The Maritime Executive 10-11-2019 10:07:38

After a pause earlier this week due to weather, on-water response work has resumed at the site of the grounded ro/ro Golden Ray, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. As of Thursday, lightering operations had removed about 220,000 gallons of fuel from the ship, roughly two-thirds of the total believed aboard at the time the ship went aground.

On shore, response teams have sprayed powdered sphagnum moss along the south shore of the Brunswick River in order to absorb spilled fuel and prevent it from spreading in marshy areas. Additional response teams are patrolling the beaches to recover any tar balls which may have come ashore. According to local conservation organization Altamaha Riverkeeper, about six miles of shoreline in the St. Simons Sound have been affected by the spill, including nearly the entire stretch from Cedar Creek to the Port of Brunswick. 

NOAA specialists are monitoring water quality at 22 sites in and around the sound, part of a long term plan to evaluate the effects of the spill. The Georgia Department of Health has issued a swimming and fishing advisory for the area, and recreational shellfish harvesting has been closed due to the potential for contamination.

The 20,000 dwt PCTC Golden Ray partially capsized on September 8 in St. Simons Sound, Georgia while heading out to sea with 4,200 vehicles on board. The pilot on the Golden Ray, Capt. Jonathan Tennant, deliberately grounded the vessel in response to a fire on board. All onboard were rescued safely, although it took around 30 hours to free four crewmembers trapped in the vessel's engine room. An investigation into the cause of the casualty continues.