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Int'l - 'It's nasty stuff': Bunker fuel discharge from the capsized Golden Ray found 2 miles from overturned ship

Update: Seven hours after this story was first published and more than 24 hours after the leak began, the Georgia Department of Health issued an alert warning swimmers and fishermen about the presence of of "small, sticky globules" of oil around Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island.

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — Update: Seven hours after this story was first published and more than 24 hours after the leak began, the Georgia Department of Health issued an alert warning swimmers and fishermen about the presence of of "small, sticky globules" of oil around Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island.

A little more than two weeks after the hulking remains of the capsized Golden Ray were engulfed in flames, the cargo vessel began leaking what Coast Guard officials call a viscous bunker fuel.

The thick, black discharge that could be seen in aerial photos, was found washing up on Jekyll Island beaches and was located much as two miles from the stricken ship. Capt. Andy Jones is an 8th generation St. Simons Island native who' been documenting the ship's condition since it rolled onto its side in September 2019. He describes the consistency of the oil blobs as similar to honey or grease and says the scale of Tuesday's leak is as bad as he's seen since the early days of the disaster.

"It's it's as bad as we have seen it since actually when the ship went over," Jones told First Coast News. "It's a pretty, pretty significant release that's come off."

U.S. Coast Guardsman Michael Himes, spokesman for Unified Command overseeing the salvage operation, said he would not categorize the discharge as an "emergency," but one that required them to "ramp up" environmental recovery efforts, doubling the usual number of patrolling boats from 5-7 vessels to 15 -- all trying to track and recover the oil.

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