‘Going on forever’: Golden Ray removal months behind original schedule

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — The first cut into the Golden Ray was on Nov. 6. St. Simons Sound Incident Response said it originally planned to have the ship removed in about eight weeks, which would be around the New Year.

As of March 15, crews aren’t even halfway done.

Neighbors on St. Simons Island said they’re ready to see it go.

“At first, I was really fascinated with it — the fact that it went over and how they were going to get it out of here,” Melody Bergen said.

She moved to the island with her husband nearly 20 years ago. “But now it’s just like going on forever.”

As the ship sits longer in the river, conservationists fear the danger it poses to the water will also increase.

“That’s a big deal. Ships and cars are not designed to be on its side. So that’s been one of the main problems from the beginning,” Sue Inman, coast keeper for the Altamaha Riverkeeper, told Action News Jax’s Robert Grant.

“It’s just bad that’s it’s contaminated the water, and that’s where I come in.”

Since work on the Golden Ray began, crews have removed two sections and more than 100 cars from the river.

Crews are almost done with the third section now, but there’s still five sections to go.

The effort to cut into the engine room was stalled by thick steel insulating the area.

Incident Response said they’ve also taken extra pauses to perform inspections and maintenance functions.

An environmental protection barrier surrounds the ship and catches most debris, but Inman said smaller pieces of plastic still wash ashore.

A team does go out to monitor the beaches.

There’s also about 44,000 gallons of bunker fuel left on the ship.

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