DEP Shellfish Bed Closure
(03/36) TRENTON - - The DEP closure
order for shellfish beds in the Raritan Bay, Sandy Hook
Bay, Navesink River and Shrewsbury River issued by Commissioner
Bradley M. Campbell on March 3, 2003 remains in effect.
Based on the magnitude of the Sayreville
sewage spill and on concerns raised over metal and viral
contamination, the DEP is taking a phased approach to re-opening
the shellfish beds. The three-tier reopening plan has the
FDA's support and approval, and is based on ensuring public
health and safety.
"The good news is that levels of fecal
coliform in the affected harvesting areas have returned
to normal and that test results show no indication of viral
contaminants in the shellfish," said DEP Commissioner
Campbell. "However, to safeguard public health, the
harvesting areas will remain closed until additional sampling
results for heavy metals have been completed and deemed
The DEP's reopening plan for shellfish
beds to again allow harvesting based on human health standards
requires the following:
- Five consecutive sampling results that show fecal coliform
levels remain below the FDA health-based standard of 88
parts of fecal coliform per 100 milliliters;
- Heavy metal levels in shellfish tissue are within FDA
guidelines; and that
- Levels of a viral indicator (coliphage) in shellfish
tissue samples are acceptable.
To date, the reopening plan sampling result
requirements for fecal coliform levels and the viral indicator
coliphage have been met. Levels of these contaminants are
below concentrations deemed safe for human consumption.
However, metal levels continue to be monitored.
The DEP is evaluating samples and conducting
additional tests for metal levels in shellfish tissue. EPA
Region 2 is helping to expedite the testing, which will
include tests for arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury
and nickel. Criteria for these metals will be based on values
set by the FDA.
Waters in the Navesink River and Shrewsbury
River that are seasonally approved for harvesting will remain
closed through April.