Debris Leaks Out as Salvagers Saw Up Ship On Georgia Coast

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Debris is washing up from a cargo ship stranded on the Georgia coast as a salvage team cuts it into chunks.

The leaks are not unexpected as salvagers demolish the Golden Ray, a South Korean ship that overturned in St. Simons Sound while carrying 4,200 vehicles 14 months ago.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Himes, a spokesperson for the command team, tells The Brunswick News that cleanup teams are responding to debris and oil sheens, but asks people to call if they see either.

The leaders of the salvage effort have warned that material would leak out as a giant anchor chain saws the Golden Ray into eight pieces. They have floating booms with nets under them to contain pollution and debris, but are also looking for it by boat and helicopter.

No oil has been reported on local shores, Himes said, although pieces of plastic and even a car bumper have washed up. Most of the ship’s fuel oil was pumped out last year, although some escaped just after the September 2019 wreck. The cars on board have gas, oil and other fluids.

“There have been some light sheens of residual oil this week, and it’s fitting with our expectations,” Himes said Friday. “That’s why we have multiple layers of defense. We’ve continued to recover debris on the shoreline this week.”

Two sleek junk trawlers imported from the Gulf of Mexico ply the waters, their powerful nets able to pull up large and heavy chunks of debris.

Infrared sensors, hydrographic survey equipment and other high tech gadgets monitor for everything from oil to the shipwreck’s stability on the sound’s sandy bed, Himes said.

“We have multiple layers of oversight and documentation,” he said. “It’s pretty comprehensive.”