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
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.