Lawsuit Says Golden Ray Removal Could Bring 'Environmental Disaster'
A former contractor working to remove a capsized ship from the St. Simons Sound is suing the Coast Guard, alleging violations of federal law and predicting a possible "environmental disaster."In a lawsuit, Donjon-SMIT alleges violations of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
Federal law requires ship operators to have a contract in place for cleanup in case of an accident. For the Golden Ray, that contractor was Donjon-SMIT, who planned to remove the ship in small sections.
Now the ship's owners have decided to go with a company, T&T Salvage, that will remove the capsized vessel in large pieces. The Coast Guard has approved it.
In the lawsuit, Donjon-SMIT says the switch violates the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, and the new plan could be disastrous for the environment.
Two similar removals of other ships led to pollution of the surrounding water, according to the suit. In both cases, after large sections were removed the remaining sections collapsed, releasing pollutants.
The Coast Guard said the regulations were followed closely and the ship's owner opted for large section removal because it is faster.
Coast Guard officials have said it is important to remove the ship by hurricane season to prevent further pollution releases in case of a storm.