Golden Ray leak is sealed but tar balls are popping up along coast

By Scott Johnson - Reporter, Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - New concerns have washed ashore after a cargo ship overturned in the St. Simons Sound.

The Golden Ray was filled with roughly 300,000 gallons of fuel when it shipwrecked last month.

The Altamaha Riverkeeper said Friday small black balls of tar washed up on Jekyll Beach. According to its Facebook page, video was also recorded of manatees swimming in the polluted water in the Brunswick River near Cedar Creek.

Salvage crews on the cargo ship in the St. Simons Sound sealed the leak that has caused fuel to spill into the water for nearly a month. Over 169,000 gallons of fuel have already been removed according to the latest update from the St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command.

Specialists will continue to actively monitor air and water quality around the vessel, Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island.

A swimming and fishing advisory remains in effect. Beachgoers who see a sheen of oil on the water are urged to avoid the water. Officials are asking people to report any oily birds or wildlife sighting to the EPA's National Response Center by calling (800) 424-8802. 

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has also set up a claims number for anyone affected by the incident: (888) 850-8486.

The Coastal Health District has elevated the warning level of the water in the area from "Green" to "Yellow." The district will continue to monitor water testing in the area and give an update once the water is clear for swimmers. 

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