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EPB Debris removal continues

BRUNSWICK, Ga. - Debris removal teams continue to recover debris from inside the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB). Once debris removal is complete, the EPB will be dismantled and removed.


Debris-removal personnel recovered 151 vehicles and 15 partial decks during operations to clear wreck debris and scour mitigation measures from inside the EPB. Response managers anticipate several more weeks of debris removal operations and additional equipment will enter the EPB to recover larger sunken pieces of the wreck. Engineering teams continue to conduct hydrographic surveys each week to assist the debris removal process. Survey analysis confirms no presence of debris along the seafloor outside of the barrier.

A debris removal team uses a multi-tine grapple attachment to recover sunken debris from inside the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB) this week. St. Simons Sound Incident response video.

A response survey vessel deploys a sonar system to create multidimensional imagery of the seafloor around the Environmental Protection Barrier on Monday. The response engineering team has conducted hydrographic surveys every week throughout the Golden Ray removal process. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

A color-shaded bathymetry image generated on Nov. 2, 2021 by hydrographic surveys of the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB) shows the locations of sunken wreck-related debris and the outlines of scour mitigation measures implemented around the Golden Ray wreck in 2019 and 2020. Response engineers have used Edgetech 6205 side-scanning and CodaOctopus Echoscope multidimensional sonar equipment to map and monitor the seafloor weekly throughout the Golden Ray removal process. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

A 176-ton hydraulic grab sits near a response facility south of Mayor’s Point Terminal on Monday. The response engineering team will use it during operations to recover sunken pieces of the side shell of the Golden Ray wreck that remain on the seafloor inside the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB). St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

The 150-yard safety zone around the EPB is increased to 200 yards for any non-response vessel transiting outside the shipping channel. The Unified Command (UC) advises mariners to please steer clear of the perimeter to ensure the safety of our responders and the public. Any unauthorized usage of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs) around the wreck site and near response facilities is discouraged due to safety. UAVs are distractions that can lead to near misses, mishaps and injuries. Responders will report any sightings of drones and drone operators to local authorities.


An on-water response team recovers debris during clean-up operations inside the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB) on Tuesday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

Composite image shows the progressive mitigation of oil impacts to marsh as a result of several treatments by the response Environmental Unit and natural attenuation. Shoreline treatments include manual recovery using hand tools and sorbent materials as well as applications of natural sphagnum moss coating and strategic vegetation cutting. Treatments are selected by the response Environmental Unit based on the ability to recover oil without damaging the area and to reduce any potential transfers to wildlife. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

Shoreline Clean-up and Assessment Technique (SCAT) teams consisting of representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Responsible Party continue the comprehensive inspection process of beaches and marsh areas throughout the entire response-monitored shoreline. Each 500-meter segment of approximately 200 miles of shoreline must meet specific criteria established by the State of Georgia and the response Unified Command prior to the final demobilization of response resources. The process is expected to take several months after the clean-up of the wreck site and removal of the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB). For more information on the response SCAT process, watch this video Subject-matter Expert Overview - Shoreline Clean-up and Assessment Technique.

Natural resource advisors continue to monitor for any potential impacts to wildlife and marine life. No wildlife impacts have been observed for several months and no marine mammal impacts have been observed throughout the response. Previously oiled marsh grass and rip-rap continue to show the natural attenuation of residual oil after multiple mitigation treatments to reduce any potential transfer to wildlife.

Pollution response teams continue to monitor for floating debris at the Environmental Protection Barrier. Survey teams continue to recover and document debris along shorelines and from marsh areas in the St. Simons Sound area in preparation for a long-term monitoring program with Georgia state officials. All debris is sorted, catalogued and disposed of according to the response debris plan. If you encounter what you believe is debris related to the Golden Ray, please do not handle the debris. Call the Debris Reporting Hotline at (912) 944-5620. Responders evaluate each report, survey the vicinity and recover any shipwreck debris in addition to their daily surveys of the water and the shoreline.

The response Environmental Unit continues to collect water samples in accordance with the response water sampling plan. Sample analysis continues to confirm no long-term impacts to water quality in the St. Simons Sound.

The St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command is the official source of information for the Golden Ray wreck removal and response operations.

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