Sewage Spill Shuts Down Oyster Harvesting

A large section of Virginia waters are closed to oyster harvesting after raw sewage spilled into an area waterway.

A portion of the York River, Back Creek, Poquoson River, and the Chesapeake Bay in York County are all closed to shellfish harvesting through October 9, the Virginia Department of Health announced Friday. Then on Saturday, the department added the Nansemond River to the emergency closure area.

The health department says that “due to potential microbiological pollution hazards, shellfish taken from areas affected by the emergency closure are currently unacceptable for consumption.” That includes oysters and clams, but not crabs or fin fish. And the risk is real. The health department writes, “Ingesting shellfish taken from the closed areas at this time could cause gastrointestinal illnesses including Norovirus, Hepatitis A and Shigellosis.”

The temporary closure goes until October 9, but the health department’s Division of Shellfish Safety will monitor water quality and shellfish to see if the area can be reopened sooner.

To find out more about Virginia’s shellfish closures, see the health department’s Frequently Asked Questions.

-Meg Walburn Viviano