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The Coastal Health District of Georgia serves the counties of Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long & McIntosh

St. Simons Sound Incident

Visit this page for public health updates related to the removal of the “Golden Ray,” a cargo carrier that capsized in the St. Simons Sound on September 8, 2019.

For more information about the incident response, visit www.stsimonssoundincidentresponse.com.

Please be aware – conditions can change rapidly. This page was updated on July 31, 2021.

Current Incident-Related
Public Health Advisory Status


Swimmers and fishers should remain alert for possible oil impacts in the water and shoreline around Jekyll and St. Simons Islands.

Oil was released into the water July 31, 2021 during the lifting of a section of the Golden Ray in the St. Simons Sound. According to the St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command, response teams are watching the shoreline 24-hours a day so they can quickly remove any oily substances that reach the shore.

Conditions can change rapidly; if you see a sheen of oil on the surface of the water or see floating debris in the water or sand, do not swim or fish in the area. Take precautions when walking on the beach as well.

If you step on a tar ball or get oil on your skin, wash off the oil with soap and clean water. There is no need to use harsh detergents, solvents or other chemicals to wash oil from skin or clothing – these could be harmful to you.

The public health advisory status may be lowered or elevated based on new information from responders and results of ongoing water quality tests. Monitor this web page for the latest advisory status, as this page will be updated as the situation changes.

If You See Debris

Debris from the vessel and the cargo may be present in the water near shore and on area beaches. This debris can include small plastic pieces or sharp metal objects.

If you see debris in the water or on the beach, avoid the area and carefully supervise small children and pets. The debris could be sharp enough to puncture skin, or small enough to pose a choking hazard. Take care not to step on debris in the sand.

If you do step on or get cut by a sharp piece of debris, gently flood the wound with bottled water or clean running water. Gently clean around the wound with soap and clean water, and then see a healthcare professional for evaluation. You may need a tetanus immunization, or other measures may be recommended to avoid infection.

If You See Oil or Oily Products

As the ship is cut into sections, oil and oily products may periodically be released into the water and could wash close to shore or onto beaches.

If you see a sheen on the surface of the water, avoid swimming or fishing in the area. If you step on a tar ball or get oil on your skin, wash off the oil with soap and clean water. There is no need to use harsh detergents, solvents, or other chemicals to wash oil from skin or clothing – these could be harmful to you.

Report Debris or Oil

If you encounter what you believe is debris from the Golden Ray wreck, please do not handle the debris. Call the Debris Reporting Hotline at (912) 944-5620 or submit an online debris report here.

If you encounter oil or oil products in the water, please call the National Response Center hotline at 800-424-8802.


About the Water Quality Monitoring Plan

A long-term water quality monitoring plan was developed by state and federal regulators to test water at various locations for the presence of contaminants from the cargo ship.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division (EPD) is overseeing this sampling and testing program. Analytical results will be reviewed by EPD to determine environmental compliance. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) will evaluate those results to determine if there are any health concerns. DPH will issue swimming and/or fish consumption advisories based on that review.

This water quality monitoring program is separate from the regular and ongoing Department of Natural Resources program to test beach water and shellfish for the presence of certain bacteria. For more information on that program, visit our beach water testing page.


More Information:

A Unified Command and Joint Information Center have been established for the incident response.

The Unified Command consists of the U.S. Coast Guard, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Gallagher Marine Systems. Multiple federal, state, local and partner organizations are assisting in the response.

The response website is www.stsimonssoundincidentresponse.com, where media and individuals can subscribe for further updates.


Press Release Archive

Yellow graphic text swimming fishing use cautionPublic Advised of Possible Oil Impacts on Jekyll & St. Simons Islands
July 1, 2021


Yellow graphic text swimming fishing use caution Swimmers/Fishers Advised of Oil Impacts on Jekyll & St. Simons Islands
June 2, 2021


Yellow graphic text swimming fishing use caution Swimmers/Fishers Advised of Oil Impacts on Jekyll Island Coastline
October 1, 2019


cargo carrier on its sideCoastal Health District Advises Extra Caution when Swimming, Fishing at Area Beaches
Sept. 30, 2019


Beach Advisory Updated for Jekyll & St. Simons
Sept. 12, 2019


Swimming Advisory Issued for St. Simons and Jekyll Island Beaches After Cargo Ship Capsizes in St. Simons Sound
Sept. 8, 2019