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Response crews remove more than 2/3 of the Golden Ray's fuel

Salvage plan in the works for shipwrecked transport vessel

U.S. Coast Guard response teams spraying a sphagnum moss-based sorbent to oiled marsh grass. Photo provided by St Simons Response.

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – For more than a month, the 656-foot vehicle transport vessel has been sitting on its side in the St. Simons Sound as response crews are working on a salvage plan. 

The Unified Command said on-water operations have resumed after a short pause earlier this week because of weather. 

The Golden Ray was filled with roughly three-hundred thousand gallons of fuel when it shipwrecked last month. The Unified Command says more than 220,000 gallons of fuel has been removed from the vessel.

New photos from the U.S. Coast Guard show response teams spraying a sphagnum moss-based sorbent to oiled marsh grass in areas of the south shore of the Brunswick River between the I-95 bridge and Cedar Creek. The Unified Command says sphagnum is a standard oil spill recovery technique for marsh areas. It binds to the oil to prevent it from spreading.


Response teams are also patrolling beaches in the area to recover any tar balls which have come ashore using proper safety equipment and appropriate tools.

Specialists are sampling water at 22 different sites in the area. Georgia Environmental Protection and the Georgia Department of Public Health are analyzing the results for any contaminants from the Golden Ray.


The Unified Command says more than 400 people and 70 vessels are currently responding to the incident.


Recreational shellfish harvest has been closed.  The Health Department has issued a swimming advisory for nearby beaches . If you spot a sheen of oil, you should not swim. 

Members of the public should not touch oil or attempt to rescue oiled birds or wildlife. You can report any sightings of oil to (800) 424-8802 and report any oiled wildlife to (800) 261-0980. 


About the Author:

Brittany Muller

Multi-media journalist with a special interest in Georgia issues.