Source of Golden Ray Oil Spill Plugged

Responders bagging oiled vegetation on the south bank of the Brunswick River.
Responders bagging oiled vegetation on the south bank of the Brunswick River.

Published Oct 2, 2019 8:24 PM by The Maritime Executive

The St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command continues its response to the capsized car carrier Golden Ray. Salvage workers continue to lighter the vessel, and they have removed over 136,000 gallons of fuel as of Wednesday. The source of the oil discharge that occurred on Monday afternoon has been located and secured.

The 656-foot Golden Ray capsized with a fire on board in St. Simons Sound, Brunswick, Georgia, on September 8. There were 24 on board, 23 crew and one pilot. All were rescued. However, the stricken vessel still poses a major hazard to navigation for the Port of Brunswick. She capsized at the entrance to St. Simons Sound while departing the port for Baltimore.

Skimming vessels are continuing to recover oil from the water while response teams continue to canvass the shoreline to mitigate impacted areas. There are currently 315 response personnel out in the field helping to mitigate and report on environmental impacts. 14,700 feet of containment boom has been deployed to protect sensitive areas and booming strategies continue to be optimized based on the evolving response efforts and changing environmental conditions. 

“The Unified Command continues to prioritize environmental protection and pollutant recovery. Yesterday, cleanup crews were deployed to Jekyll Island where they cleaned 1.5 miles of shoreline. Currently, we are also assessing impacted marsh in the sound and associated tributaries, and developing cleanup methods for those affected areas,” said Jed Hewitt, Georgia Environmental Protection Division, State On Scene Coordinator.

The Georgia Department of Health has issued an advisory alerting swimmers and recreational fishers to the potential presence of oil on the beaches of Jekyll Island. Specialists continue to actively monitor air and water quality around the vessel, Jekyll Island, and St. Simons Island.

At the Brunswick State of the Port address on Wednesday, Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch thanked the U.S. Coast Guard, Brunswick Bar Pilots and port workers for their efforts in the crew rescue, ongoing vessel salvage and reopening of the Port of Brunswick. "The Coast Guard and our Brunswick maritime community came together in an impressive display of teamwork, focused first on the safety of the crew, and now on protecting the natural environment and the safety of vessel operations," Lynch said. "In only four days, we were able to reopen the port, protecting the livelihoods of our direct employees and thousands of others across the region. On behalf of the Georgia Ports Authority, I would like to thank all those involved in the rescue and salvage operations."
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Norm Witt of the Marine Safety Unit in Savannah and Captain John Reed are to be commended for the Coast Guard's quick rescue of the ship's crew and river pilot, and for their continuing work to restore normal operations. "I applaud the quick action of the Coast Guard, tugs, maritime engineers and emergency responders in the rescue of the ship's entire crew and the river pilot on the Golden Ray," Kemp said. "We all felt tremendous relief as the last sailor was brought to safety. Now that the mission has shifted to recovery, we appreciate the Coast Guard's efforts to accommodate river traffic while salvagers work to right the vessel and clear the channel. The Port of Brunswick is an important asset to Georgia, supporting employment across an array of industries."