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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 18, 2003

Contact: Jack Kaskey
609-984-1795

Power Outage Forces Shellfishing Ban in Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays
About 25,000 acres affected

(03/114) TRENTON - The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has temporarily closed Raritan and Sandy Hook bays to shellfishing to protect public health after widespread power outages last week allowed raw sewage from New York City to bypass some treatment facilities.

DEP Deputy Commissioner Joanna Samson ordered the shellfish beds closed on Sunday, immediately after receiving results of marine water tests conducted Saturday. Those tests found four of 23 water samples exceeded the shellfish-harvesting standard for fecal coliform. Tests on samples taken Sunday show conditions have not changed.

The spill has so far affected about a quarter of the harvestable waters in Raritan and Sandy Hook bays, but the DEP has taken the precautionary step of closing all harvestable waters, about 25,000 acres, in the two Monmouth County bays.

Re-opening of these waters will be based on results of continued water monitoring. Once it is clear that bacteria levels are subsiding, the unaffected shellfish beds may be re-opened after two consecutive days of acceptable water-quality readings. Additional weeks of closure will be required in shellfish beds where fecal coliform levels exceeded standards, so the shellfish have time to purge themselves of contaminants.

The bulk of the pollution came from New York City sewage that bypassed two treatment facilities and a pump station in New York during the North American power outage that began Thursday afternoon.

 

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