Responders removed Section Six from the Golden Ray wreck site on Saturday. Six of eight sections of the Golden Ray wreck have been removed. The two remaining sections will be separated by one final cut.
Tug crews towed Section Six of the Golden Ray wreck to a response facility south of Mayor’s Point Terminal on Saturday. Wreck removal personnel safely lifted and loaded the section onto a dry dock barge on Friday. Approximately 25 pollution response vessels quickly mitigated an oil discharge using oil skimmers, Current Busters and sorbent boom during the final lift of the section. In total, on-water pollution response teams recovered approximately 2,300 gallons of oil during controlled lifting operations beginning on July 31.
“We greatly appreciate the patience and support of the community as we complete another significant step in removing the Golden Ray wreck from St. Simons Sound,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Efren Lopez, federal on-scene coordinator. “Our personnel continue to ensure our safety priorities are met throughout all operations from the wreck site to the shoreline.”
The VB-10000 entered a refitting period on Sunday to prepare for the final cutting operation to separate the two remaining sections of the wreck.
The 150-yard safety zone around the EPB is increased to 200 yards for any non-response vessel not transiting inside the shipping channel. The Unified Command (UC) advises mariners to please steer clear of the perimeter to ensure the safety of our responders and the public. Any unauthorized usage of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs) around the wreck site and near response facilities is discouraged due to safety. UAVs are distractions that can lead to near misses, mishaps and injuries. Responders will report any sightings of drones and drone operators to local authorities.
Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, Inc. (TSBRR) in coordination with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA DNR), successfully rehabilitated and released 10 healthy Royal Tern chicks which were banded by GA DNR and returned to the Royal Tern colony on Bird Island during multiple visits within the past week. TSBRR captured 20 oiled Royal Tern chicks on Bird Island on August 7 and the birds were immediately transported to the primary care center in South Carolina. Regretfully, the remaining chicks that did not make it to release either succumbed during transit to the primary care center, during care, or were euthanized due to medical issues discovered on admittance and had a very poor prognosis for recovery.
“Several factors including the age of the chicks, the amount of time they had been oiled prior to capture, and the delicate nature of the species contributed to the challenge of successfully rehabilitating and safely releasing these young birds back into the wild,” said Oil Programs Manager Michelle Knapp of Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, Inc.
Wildlife assessment teams continue to survey marsh areas and beaches throughout St. Simons Sound for any potential wildlife impacts. If you encounter any oiled wildlife, do not attempt to capture it and report any sightings of oiled wildlife by calling (800) 261-0980.
Approximately 80 personnel split into several shoreline clean-up teams are using various clean-up techniques to mitigate oiled shorelines along the southern edge of St. Simons Island from Gould’s Inlet to west of Wylie Street public beach access on St. Simons Island and on the northside of Jekyll Island. The teams use a variety of techniques from hand tools and bags to collect oiled sand to sphagnum moss and sorbent pads to treat oiled marsh grasses. Shoreline assessment teams continue to survey beaches and shorelines for any additional impacts. If you encounter residual oil on the shoreline or in the water, please call the National Response Center hotline at (800) 424-8802.
Beaches remain open to the public and the Department of Health urges beach-goers to remain vigilant. For current beach and fishing safety information, please visit the Georgia Coast Health District website at the Georgia Coast Health District website.
Survey teams continue to recover debris along shorelines and from marsh areas in the vicinity of the wreck site. All debris is sorted, catalogued and disposed of according to the response debris plan. If you encounter what you believe is debris from the Golden Ray wreck, please do not handle the debris. Call the Debris Reporting Hotline at (912) 944-5620. Responders evaluate each report, survey the vicinity and recover any shipwreck debris in addition to their daily surveys of the water and the shoreline.
On-water response teams maintain a 24-hour watch around the Golden Ray and they deploy pre-staged equipment and personnel to mitigate any oil discharges, sheens and debris observed. To learn more about the response on-water oil recovery program, watch this video Subject Matter Expert Overview – On-Water Oil Recovery Operations
Safety personnel continue to measure air quality in the community using stationary and mobile air monitoring equipment. Community air quality analysis and water sample analysis continues to confirm no exceedances of air and water quality standards. To learn more about the Air and Water quality monitoring program, watch this video Subject Matter Expert Overview – Air and Water Quality Monitoring.
The Unified Command (UC) developed a multi-layer approach for observing, surveying, documenting and mitigating any releases of oil or debris during cutting and lifting operations. Recovery personnel are on-station at the Environmental Protection Barrier, at the shoreline and on the water around the Golden Ray shipwreck. Responders are maintaining protective boom at sensitive locations around St. Simons Sound.
The St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command is the official source of information for the Golden Ray wreck removal and response operations.