On September 8, 2019, a South Korean automobile carrier ship named Golden Ray capsized shortly after leaving Port of Brunswick. Though demolition works have been carried out since November, about half of the ship still remains partially submerged underwater.
There has been periodical oil leakage from the ship of late that became a huge concern for environmentalists. On Saturday, a large amount of oil gushed into the water along Georgia Beach from the overturned ship that is being dismantled. The oil leak on Saturday can be a result of cutting away the sixth giant section of the ship.
The oil gushed into the water as soon as the towering crane began lifting the segment of the ship which is around 4 tons. According to the salvage team, the ship’s ballast tanks had collected oil. It oozed out through the holes that were drilled to drain water from the partly submerged sections of the ship.
Dozens of workers from the Environmental response team rushed to the site, to clean up thick bands of blackened sand from the oil leak that hampered the popular tourist beach of Georgia. The cleanup processes are expected to take several days.
Officials from the state department of Natural Resources said in a news release that crews deployed oil skimmers, sorbents and other equipment designed to diminish the latest oil spill. They further added that 70 people were there to help in the cleanup process and additional crews were expected to arrive soon.
Sussan Inman, who is a coastal advocate working with the environmental non-profit organization, One Hundred Miles, has warned that the ship could turn out to be a major disaster for the state in the coming times. According to him, there is an estimated 44,000 gallons in the ship in 2019, although more than 300,000 gallons of an oil-and-water mixture were removed.
Fletcher Sams, the executive director of the Altamaha Riverkeeper environmental watchdog group stated “Around two and a half miles of shoreline on the St. Simons Island is severely impacted.” He added, “Certain areas are heavily impacted than others, but mostly all are pretty heavy.”
There has been a warning issued by Georgia’s Coastal Health District to the beachgoers to use their best judgement before getting in the water. There is an advisory issued on 5th July that suggests no swimming in the waters of the Georgia beach.
There have been a number of delays and interruptions in the plan of demolishing the Golden Ray ship like the coronavirus pandemic, hurricane seasons and equipment malfunctions. The demolition works were halfway completed in May but a major fire outbreak stalled the progress. Though none of the workers were injured, thick smoke was seen coming out of the wreckage.
According to First Coast News, the removal of the Golden Ray ship is on its way to becoming the most expensive ship rescue operation in history.
Micheal Himes has said that once the sixth section of the ship is removed from the water, the crew members have to cut the remaining two sections apart in order to remove and haul them. It could take 15 weeks or even longer complete these steps.