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Crews to install oil boom around Golden Ray in St. Simons Sound

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – As the Golden Ray continues to sit in the St. Simons Sound, crews will install a large floating oil boom around the cargo ship to catch surface pollutants, News4Jax learned Friday.

The ship was carrying thousands of vehicles when it overturned in September. A double layered net will catch debris under the water.

“Any large debris that falls ... that large mesh netting is designed to contain that," said Cmdr. Norm Witt with the U.S. Coast Guard. "Then during the actual cuts and lifts, we will also have a smaller mesh netting for smaller debris”

It’ll take about a month to install the giant netting and equipment. Construction should begin mid-February. Residents and visitors can expect to hear construction noises as well as see shining lights at night.

Because of the darkness and the depth of the St. Simons Sound, News4Jax asked how crews will monitor marine life and the durability of the netting.

“Hydrographic surveying," said Jim Elliott with T&T Salvage. "That’s basically using sonar or side scan sonar multi-beam sonar, different types of equipment to look under the water because visibility is low. We can direct divers and remotely operate in vehicles if there’s an issue there to go and direct response if needed.”

T&T Salvage has been hired to remove the Golden Ray.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources will not be increasing water or soil testing while the operation is active and will use the sampling plan already in place. Doug Haymans with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said water samples and sediments samples “have shown no levels of oil in the water.”

The Coast Guard said today it was able to remove 330,000 gallons of the estimated 380,000 gallons of fuel on board. Witt said some of the remaining fuel is still on the vessel.

“We know we had some discharges, there’s also been multiple fires on the vessel, so, what that total number remaining on the vessel is just kind of an open question, but I would say we’re taking every precaution to guard against the worst cases," Witt said.

The Riverkeeper said it’s impossible to know just yet the total environmental impact. In October, officials announced plans to take the ship apart in pieces.


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