- The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed Saturday reports of oil leaking from the Golden Ray cargo ship, which remains in the St. Simons Sound where it overturned back in early September.
- The Coast Guard’s Unified Command reported “sporadic discharges” from the ship.
The Coast Guard’s Unified Command reported “sporadic discharges” of oil from the Golden Ray cargo ship, which remains in the St. Simons Sound where it capsized, reports First Coast News.
Oil sightings and Oiled wildlife
“Shoreline impacts have been identified near Quarantine Island, Lanier Island, and the confluence of the Back, Mackay, and Frederica Rivers, with varying degrees of oil and sheen in the marshes,” the Coast Guard said. “Mitigation techniques are being evaluated.”
The Coast Guard said over 5,300 feet of boom has been deployed to protect the nearby Bird Island and 18,400 feet of boom is staged for use as needed.
The Coast Guard continues to warn the public not to touch the oil, instead report any oil sightings or oiled wildlife.
First Coast News reporter Troy Kless spoke to Altamaha Riverkeeper’s executive director Fletcher Sams who had already expressed concerns about oil leaking from the ship and potentially impacting the environment.
“We’re concerned we’re finding things that are newly reported, and we don’t think they’re being as responsive as we would like them to be,” Sams said.
That day, Sams took a stalk of grass from the marshes along Back River, which still had some oiling on it.
The Altamaha Riverkeeper told First Coast News it is working with the University of Georgia to conduct tests of samples that will be gathered from different areas around St. Simons in the coming week.
Oil spills from Golden Ray
In the 12 days since a cargo ship carrying more than 4,000 vehicles capsized in the St. Simons Sound, precautions have been taken against any potential environmental threat to the inlets and the nearby beaches.
Yet in recent days, several instances of possible pollution have been reported to the National Response Center.
Environmentalists and local residents are documenting what appears to be oil spills from the Golden Ray, and according to them, the environmental impact reaches farther than they initially expected.
“I was shocked,” Ginny Worthington said. “I walk the beach all the time as a photographer. I was shocked. It’s a mess.”
After not seeing much environmental impact, Worthington took photos of oil washing up on St. Simon’s Island about 2 miles away from where the ship turned on its side as it was sailing out of the Port of Brunswick, to confirm it was oil.
“I don’t know where this slab of oil came from,” Worthington said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. I can only assume, since we have the wreck out there, that’s where it came from.”
Documenting environmental hazards
Worthington reported the oil to the National Response Center, and she’s not the only one documenting potential environmental hazards.
“I was just told it was normal to break this up, and for it come back quickly like that.”
Video taken by the Fletcher Sams, the executive director of the Altamaha Riverkeeper organization, shows oil 10.5 miles away from the Golden Ray in an area called the Back River.
Sams said he told the Coast Guard and Gallagher Marine, which is contracted by the owners of the Golden Ray to contain any possible pollution and run the salvage operation what he found.
Sams said both agencies told them they would not test what he found, saying it was normal.
“What I’m seeing is not square with what the public is being told,” Sams said.
“I’m concerned about who is leading the investigation,” Sams said. “If Gallagher Marine, who is paying them, and why are they investigating that way?”
“We are seeing sheening in the water that is far away from the ship. We’ve got concerns about four kinds of fuel: gasoline, diesel and two different kinds of bunker fuel, and they all travel through the channels at different speeds, and it could travel different distances.”
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