Oil clean-up efforts slow Golden Ray wreck removal efforts

Written by Nick Blenkey
spill recovery efforts

An oil recovery team uses a floating vacuum attachment connected to green containers to pump out oil that discharged from Section Six during lifting operations on Wednesday. The VB-10000 lowered the section back into the water to allow for controlled oil recovery operations. [St. Simons Sound Incident Response photo]

Responders in St. Simons Sound, Ga., are continuing to deal with discharges of oil that began following separation of Section Six of the wreck of the car carrier Golden Ray. Yesterday, response vessels were continuing recover oil while shoreline teams continued to mitigate shoreline impacts.

Wreck removal personnel partially raised Section Six on Wednesday morning. The salvage master paused the lifting operation to allow oil recovery personnel to recover an oil discharge that began to pool inside of retention boom around the section using oil skimmers and a floating vacuum that pumped oil into containment tanks on a nearby work barge. Some oil entrained beyond the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB) and approximately 30 vessels responded.

“We are executing very controlled lifts of Section Six in order to recover any oil that discharges from the section without overwhelming our multi-layered mitigation system,” said incident commander Chris Graff of Gallagher Marine Systems. “Removing this section will take time and we appreciate the patience and support of the community as we move forward.”

The St. Simons Sound Incident Response says that lifting operations will be limited to conditions that are safe and favorable for the mitigation of any potential oil discharges. Section Six of the Golden Ray wreck remains connected to the giant heavy lift catamaran VB-10000, which has been cutting the remains of the ship into sections, using a chain rigged between its twin gantries. The section will be lifted and stowed onto a dry-dock barge once it is safe to do so.

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 Massengale Park 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. 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.

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