Golden Ray: Cutting operations resume with extra bite

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Responders modify a chain pulley to improve the performance of the cutting chain used by the heavy lift vessel VB-10000 to separate the Golden Ray wreck into eight sections. [St. Simons Sound Incident Response photograph]

The Unified Command (the Coast Guard, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Gallagher Marine Systems) working on the salvage of the capsized car carrier Golden Ray reports that the process of cutting of the wreck into sections has resumed after heavy weather precautions forced a pause.

Responders have now redeployed protective boom at the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB) around the wreck and at sensitive areas around St. Simons Sound that had been removed prior to Tropical Storm Eta.

Cutting operations resumed on Section One once the boom was in place. During the pause in cutting, responders were able to make modifications to the cutting apparatus to improve its performance.

Responders recovered small pieces of plastic debris at the shoreline last week and they continue to scan for debris on the water and at the shoreline daily.

“We have implemented multiple layers of defense and protectively positioned equipment to mitigate potential threats to the environment. Our recovery and assessment personnel are actively monitoring the water and shoreline,” said State On-scene Coordinator John Maddox of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “We expect that some debris will escape the EPB and encourage the community to notify us immediately if they encounter any debris on the shoreline or in the water using the phone number provided.”

The 150-yard safety zone around the Environmental Protection Barrier has been increased to 200 yards for recreational vessels. The UC advises mariners to please steer clear of the perimeter. Any unauthorized usage of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) around the wreck site is prohibited. Responders will report any sightings of drones and drone operators to local authorities.

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