BRUNSWICK, Ga. – As the Golden Ray removal operations continue, crews are working to refit the barge that will carry away the remaining pieces of the wreck.
The barge that will haul these sections needs a cradle built to rest them in. And it’s all tide dependent — each day there is a small window of opportunity for all the conditions to be right for responders to get those final two sections removed out of the St. Simons Sound.
The 656-foot ship, loaded with 4,200 cars, listed into the St. Simons Sound in September 2019.
Crews found damage and deformations to Section Five of the Golden Ray. To shed weight off this section, crews removed 226 cars. Responders expect to see sunken cars and other debris, as well. Those will be removed after the final two sections are lifted out of the sound.
Wreck removal continues for #GoldenRay operation. These photos from St. Simons Sound Incident response showing the damage to the ship when it listed into the Sound in Sept 2019. Responders say 226 vehicles were removed from this section. @wjxt4 pic.twitter.com/jOrJGoq8dL— Brittany Muller (@BrittMullerNews) September 13, 2021
The Altamaha Riverkeeper knows that once that’s completed, its work will continue.
“We want to know there is a definite commitment thorough and thorough assessment and that Georgia’s very precious natural resources here on the coast will be fully remediated,” said Maggie Van Cantfort, watershed specialist with the Altamaha Riverkeeper.
That is why the Altamaha Riverkeeper’s main push is for a natural resource damage assessment to be officially initiated because that is the only way it says it will get a thorough investigation into the consequences of the Golden Ray incident.
Van Cantfort said more than 30 miles of shoreline have been oiled. The largest spill happened in early August, but the remnants can still be seen, with signs posted at the Wylie Street beach entrance.
“One of the things they’ve use for the oil response on the beach is to spray what’s called sphagnum moss onto the marshes,” said Van Cantfort.
The moss absorbs the oil, and it washes back out into the ocean. While the long-term effects are still unclear, some impacts are known. The St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command said a laughing gull was released after being treated for injury and oiling.
“There’s definitely the possibility that we won’t see the impact of the oiling in the marshes for some time to come,” Van Cantfort said.
All costs of the salvage operation will be paid by the Golden Ray’s owner, Hyundai Glovis, and its insurer. According to the Brunswick News, as of February, that cost stood at around $788 million.