Oyster farmers devastated after Hurricane Matthew sends sewage running into local waterways

Posted at 7:59 PM, Oct 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-17 22:35:39-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Oyster farmers say the effects of Hurricane Matthew have devastated their businesses.

Several waterways are currently closed off for shellfishing because of the heavy rains and a sewage line break. The impacted waterways include the Nansemond River, Back River, James River, and theLynnhaven, Broad, and Linkhorn Bays. The closures could last through the end of the month.

"We're stuck waiting to see what happens," said Pete Nixon, a local waterman. "We're shut down completely for the time being."

Nixon estimates the closure could be costing him thousands of dollars each week, if not more. "It's real frustrating when at the end of the month, I look at bills on the table and I look at the checkbook and the numbers don't add up," he said. "That's a problem."

The issues were compounded by a sewer line break on Laskin Road. In addition, about 190 sewers overflowed during the storm across Hampton Roads, according to the Dept. of Environmental Quality.

The closures could soon impact local restaurants, he says. "We have been pushing and pushing for this local product. It's in all the local restaurants down at the Oceanfront and now all of the sudden that product isn't available when everyone wants it," he said.

The Dept. of Health continues to test the waters for bacteria levels and it is possible they could reopen sooner than the end of the month.