US State of Georgia proposes $3m pollution fine for Golden Ray’s operators

With the total cost of the capsizing of car carrier Golden Ray in St Simon’s Sound off Brunswick, Georgia in September 2019 now approaching $1bn, one would be forgiven for thinking that $3m is neither here nor there, but for the re/insurers and the operators, the ever-increasing anticipated total cost is nothing to smile about.

A month after the removal of the last section of the Golden Ray wreck, and with debris removal efforts likely to wind down in the Sound,  environmental officials have moved to implement a fine for environmental damage caused by the Golden Ray.

The state’s environmental authority posted notice of the proposed enforcement action on November 23rd, with a one-month comment period. The action proposes a $3m settlement to be paid by Hyundai Glovis, operators of the Golden Ray at the time of the accident. Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division alleges that pollutants, debris, and petroleum products were discharged from the Golden Ray into waters beginning on September 8th 2019 through to the effective date of the consent order.

Within one year of the execution of the consent order, Hyundai Glovis must pay a civil penalty or elect to submit a plan for a proposed supplemental environmental project. If they elect to propose further remediation efforts, the company might obtain a reduction in the civil penalty, the notice stated.

The last significant oil leak happed at the end of July into early August 2021 when, during the weight shedding process and then when they began to raise section six, fuel oil leaked into the water and was able to escape the protective barrier. In early August the salvage team located and capped a vent pipe which they said was the source of the most significant leak since the salvage operation had begun.