ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - The team working on the Golden Ray salvage operation gave an update on their progress Friday.
Officials gave updates on the oil leakage, the environmental and health impacts, and the effort to remove the overturned ship from the Saint Simons Sound.
Watch Friday’s news conference:
The Unified Command tells us they’ve started a process called “lightering” where a barge is parked next to the vessel so they can pump fuel out of the capsized ship’s fuel tanks. This process is meant to prevent any more fuel and oil from leaking into the water and onto the shore.
“The problem with this is it’s very complex and you can’t access all the tanks easily, so the salvage operation is first; hit the initial tanks that they could get to in the engine room, and then they’ll move,” said Chris Graff, Gallagher Marine Systems. "There’s approximately 12 tanks in the engine room and there’s 12 additional fuel tanks outside of the engine room.
More than two weeks after the Golden Ray capsized on St. Simons sound, officials with Gallagher Marine Systems say not only is this a very complex and delicate clean up effort because of the pollutants on the vessel, but also because of the communities nearby.
Gallagher Marine Systems is one of the companies that mobilized and came out to help.
If you go out to St. Simons Sound, you will still see the more than 600-foot ship on its side. Graff says though they are working to figure out how to get the ship out of the water, one of their main concerns is the potential threats to the environment with oils and other pollutants. So far, he says they have and are continuing to conduct surveys around the sound with professionals at the state and federal levels. He says clean up teams have removed sand and debris from the Brunswick Point and established protection around sensitive site areas.
Graff says they have also plugged vents to fuel tanks and are monitoring water quality throughout the sound and around the vessel.
They will continue to monitor air and water quality as they work to figure out how to get the ship out of the water.
Previous stories on the Golden Ray:
- Entire crew rescued from capsized cargo ship off Ga. coast
- Focus shifts to salvage, pollution mitigation of capsized ship off Ga. coast
- Coast Guard: “Discharge” leaking from overturned ship in St. Simons Sound
- Crews say it could take months to remove capsized ship from St. Simons Sound
- Flipped cargo ship in St. Simons Sound having impact on local economy