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'Highly complex and challenging response:' Officials give update on cargo ship removal efforts in St. Simons Sound

Protective booms have been placed around stretches of sensitive shoreline, but crews have been unable to keep booms in place around the actual ship.

Officials gave more information on Friday about the cargo ship that overturned in the St. Simons Sound earlier this month, where it still sits.

After a harrowing rescue of some of the shipmates onboard, officials are still dealing with the aftermath of the incident in the form of oil discharge and environmental concern.

Chris Graff, Incident Commander with Gallagher Marine Systems, says that environmental impact is one of their biggest concerns.

"This is a highly complex and challenging response, as you probably well know," said Graff. "The vessel on its side, full of cargo that has cars, it has potential threats to the environment, it has oil and other pollutants."

Graff says that their crews have been able to completely drain two fuel tanks of gas, but still have over 20 left on board. They're also still assessing damages after a fire broke out the ship at some point.

The removal process could be a long road.

While they have placed protective booms around stretches of sensitive shoreline, they have been unable to keep containment booms around the ship, due to strong currents that were destroying the booms and endangering workers. 

Teams have instead shifted efforts to put protective booming in sensitive areas - focusing on Bird Island - with more than 30,000 feet of materials.

They also have over 70 vessels monitoring water quality and conducting surveys in the area.

Other crews have been dispatched to Chile where the Golden Ray’s sister ship is. The crews there will work to study the ship and gain more insight into its layout and structure.

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