Flipped cargo ship in St. Simons Sound having impact on local economy

A crowded room at the International Longshoremen Association meeting Wednesday. Sept. 11.
A crowded room at the International Longshoremen Association meeting Wednesday. Sept. 11.(WTOC)
Published: Sep. 11, 2019 at 6:11 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 11, 2019 at 6:12 PM EDT
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ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Residents and businesses in the Brunswick area are being affected by the ship that overturned in the St. Simons Sound on Sunday.

The U.S. Coast Guard says the ship could be in the water for the next month as they investigate and try to get it removed.

Workers haven’t been able to do their jobs since the channel closed. An International Longshoremen’s Association meeting was held Wednesday to discuss what’s next.

Workers were told they would hear something by Wednesday evening on what the status is for them going back to work and getting paid. But right now, the answer is still uncertain.

The ILA’s vice president says people aren’t just worried about their pay, but also about their benefits because they have to work a certain amount of hours to receive them. He says the ship incident is a double whammy for them because the port was also shut down following Hurricane Dorian, so they couldn’t work last week either.

“The only good thing we can say is that everybody is working together. We know about everybody who is impacted with the work at the port," said Kenny Thorpe, Sr., with the International Longshoremen’s Association. "It’s not only affecting the ILA, but it’s affecting the IEP that processes the cars over there at Colonel’s Island, because if we’re not moving cars out of the way, they can’t get cars off the rail and put in the field, so it’s impacting the whole city.”

The Altamaha Riverkeeper tells WTOC this is a cleanup process that will be ongoing for a while. Their biggest concern is making sure residents and marine life are protected.

“Today, we are seeing all kinds of activity; a very aggressive effort to try to contain this contamination," Jennifer Hilburn said.

Crews have been working around the clock with boom to clean up the spills from the ship, but Hilburn says the community is still concerned.

“What we are hearing are calls from fishermen, hotel managers concerned that this could impact their economy. What we need to remember is that this is a huge ship, and this is a very long process, and we are seeing continual leakage happening, so containment has got to be the first effort, and we are glad to see they are working on that."

The U.S. Coast Guard says they are working to get the channel back open as soon as possible.

“All that time leaves plenty of opportunities for a wide variety of fluids and contaminates to come out of the boat.”

The Coast Guard says it all depends on safety and how well their plans can be executed to right the ship and remove it.

For more information on progress, click here.

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