Ever since the sun started to emerge above the Atlantic Ocean on Sept. 8 and shine a light on the wreckage of the Golden Ray in the St. Simons Sound, the ship’s fate and a myriad of questions surrounding it have been a hot topic in the Isles. Granted, a 656-foot ship sticking out of the sound has a way of drawing attention.

First, it was the rescue mission that captivated everyone. The first priority of everyone involved was making sure all of the Golden Ray’s crew was safe. Through the tireless work of the Coast Guard, the state Department of Natural Resources, local first responders and a host of others, everyone was rescued safe and sound.

After that, the focus shifted to getting the Golden Ray out of the sound and mitigating the damage done to the environment. A Unified Command made up of the Coast Guard, DNR and private entity Gallagher Marine Systems was set up to handle the situation. Unfortunately, the ship has caused some problems when it comes to the environment.

Efforts to mitigate the damage done by oil and fuel leaks include employing absorbent and surface barrier booms in certain areas, using boats to siphon it out of the water and spraying a concoction made of sphagnum moss to treat oiled vegetation.

The good news is that there has been a concerted effort for cooperation when it comes to the problem. The Unified Command wants citizens to report any evidence of environmental damage by calling 1-800-424-8802 if pollutants are spotted in local waters and shorelines or calling 1-800-261-0980 if you see oiled wildlife.

There has also been cooperation between the Unified Command and groups like the Altamaha Riverkeeper, which has been actively looking for environmental damage in the area. The Riverkeeper has compared notes with Unified Command about oil leaks from the ship.

Everyone involved wants to do what it takes to solve any issues that arise. While there may be the occasional disagreement along the way, we hope that everyone remembers that as this long process continues.

From the outset, it was mentioned that it would take months to get the Golden Ray out of the sound. Now the plan is to take the ship out in pieces. We look forward to learning more about how Unified Command plans to achieve such a difficult task.

The more time that passes, the more likely frustration will build that the ship isn’t gone yet. We hope that everyone involved in the process continues to work together harmoniously. Cooperation has been a big part of the success that has already been achieved. It would be a shame if we took a step back now with all the progress that has been made.

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