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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
4/17/03

Contact: Jack Kaskey
609-984-1795

Additional Shellfish 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, Middlesex County.

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.

 

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