ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) -It has been months since the Golden Ray capsized in the St. Simons Sound, and the longer the ships sits in the water, the more anxious some locals are feeling.
The U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies that are part of the response team held an open house Friday night to address some of the concerns for those in the community at the A.W. Jones Heritage Center.
Those that live in the area were able to speak directly to people from the Coast Guard, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Gallagher Marine Systems, the salvage companies and engineers, and ask questions about their plans for wreck removal, construction of the environmental protection barrier, environmental impacts, and other safety related topics.
“We’ve been trying to really make sure we’re as transparent as possible about our efforts, and engage with the public to make sure we hear concerns and share ongoing progress, so this is another part of that effort,” said Carolyn Moberly, a Commander with the U.S. Coast Guard.
The environmental impact is the major concern for people who live here, and for those who work with marine life, like fishermen and seafood markets. Commander Moberley said the islanders have been hospitable toward the workers, and she sees their concerns.
“We know how much they care and how invested they are in this- as are we, you know," Moberley said. "I think a lot of us, that’s why we’re in this service, because we also love the environment and want to protect it.”
Some people are still worried, but one resident said he believes the professionals answered all of his questions.
“I’m happy with as much as they’re trying to put out to the community," said Jimmy Langford. "I think they’re doing a good job.”
Over the next three to four weeks, they’ll be installing the environmental protection barrier around the ship.
There are about 4,000 cars inside the Golden Ray. Those cars and the ship have environmentalists worried about the ecosystem around the vessel.
The new barrier that’s being built is aimed at controlling the impact on the surrounding area. A company called “Weeks Marine” is building the underwater wall by sending 80 huge beams down into the sea floor. The barrier is also supposed to contain the debris during the eventual dismantling and removal of the ship. Due to the noise, they are only doing this during daylight hours.
The Coast Guard has launched a website with updates and all the graphics and videos that were shown at the open house.