Beds Re-Opened after Sewage Spill Closure
(03/58) TRENTON - The Department
of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced plans
to open another 20,000 acres of shellfish beds that have
been closed since March 3 due to a sewage spill in Sayreville,
DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell signed an order today
re-opening 19,047 acres of shellfish beds in Raritan Bay
and Sandy Hook Bay effective Friday. These beds are classified
as special restricted, so clams harvested there must be
treated at a depuration plant.
The order also returns 945 acres of shellfish beds in the
Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers to their normal seasonal
classification effective May 1. Since these beds are seasonally
classified, they are closed during the warm-weather months.
Harvesting there will resume Nov. 1, 2003.
Today's action follows the April 5 re-opening of more than
6,000 acres of beds in Sandy Hook Bay and the Navesink and
Shrewsbury rivers. In total, the commissioner has ordered
the re-opening of more than 26,000 acres of shellfish beds
since the sewage spill.
"The public can be assured that these clam beds have
met the most vigorous public health standards," Campbell
said. "We are particularly grateful for the cooperation
of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in expediting
the shellfish tests."
To ensure public health and safety, the DEP initiated a
three-tier reopening plan for the shellfish beds. The DEP
required testing for fecal coliform and potential viral
and metal contamination in shellfish tissue. All three testing
criteria have been met for waters that are being re-opened.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has agreed the
re-opening plan is protective of public health.
DEP test results found no indication of viral contaminants
in shellfish tissues, and the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency found metal levels in shellfish tissues were below
FDA safety guidelines. Water-monitoring tests indicate levels
of fecal coliform in the affected harvesting areas have
returned to normal and are deemed safe.