State leaders praise Coast Guard, port crews for Golden Ray rescue

By Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter, Zachery Lashway - Reporter/anchor

ST. SIMON'S SOUND, Ga. - Georgia state leaders are praising first responders and authorities at Port Brunswick on how they handled last month's cargo ship disaster in the St. Simon's Sound.

During Wednesday's State of the Port Address, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and the executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority, Griff Lynch, thanked everyone's fast and hard work to reopen the port.

Lynch said lives and livelihoods were saved across the region because of the professionalism and fast thinking of the pilot and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Golden Ray capsized on Sept. 8, 2019. Even though it remains in the St. Simons Sound, the port was only shut down for four days.

The Brunswick News reports Lynch praised the pilot who made the decision to ground the Golden Ray where it is. Had it not been for the pilot's actions, some 11,000 jobs in Glynn County and the five surrounding counties could have been in jeopardy.  

Georgia's Deepwater Ports supports more than 444,000 full and part-time jobs. 

Lynch touted Port of Brunswick's immediate access to I-95, I-10 and I-16, making it an ideal hub for the import and export of vehicles. 

He also announced the development of a 40-acre dockside parcel dedicated to auto processing at the port at Colonel's Island Terminal.  With this, Lynch said the Port of Brunswick is ready to take on substantial new business. 

In fiscal year 2019, the Port of Brunswick handled nearly 614,000 units of roll-on/roll-off cargo. BMW announced a new 20-year contract to move vehicles through Port of Brunswick. 

While the ship remains in the water, the Georgia Department of Health is urging beachgoers, swimmers, and fishers in that area to stay on alert and be on the lookout for any oil sheen.

As of Thursday, salvage workers have removed over 169,000 gallons of fuel. Specialists will continue to actively monitor air and water quality around the vessel, Jekyll Island, and St. Simons Island.

According to the St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command, response teams are continuing to canvass the shoreline for oil-impacted impacted areas and conduct environmental protection techniques to mitigate further impact. In a release issued Thursday, there were 449 personnel and 71 vessels responding to the incident. 14,700 feet of containment boom is in place to protect sensitive areas.

A claims number has been established for those affected by the incident (888) 850-8486.

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