Hurricane Matthew causing concerns over possible seafood contamination

Posted at 5:05 PM, Oct 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-18 17:30:21-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - You don't want to eat an oyster that could make you sick which is why state officials put restricts on bodies of water in Hampton Roads.

Hurricane Matthew is to blame.

Shellfish harvesting is currently not allowed in several waters throughout the region and that is causing problems for some who make their living on the water.

There was nothing but docked boats and empty containers Tuesday where buckets overflowing with oysters can normally be found.

"I'm losing my tourism dollars and I'm losing my harvest dollars," said Capt. Chris Ludford with Pleasure House Oysters.

Ludford said he can't run oyster tours and there is no shellfish harvesting allowed.

The fear is contaminated waters.

State officials are aware of 190 incidents when sewage entered a stream or river in Hampton Roads due to the recent storm.

A sewage pipe broke on Laskin Road and caused 2 million gallons of diluted sewage to leak, according to the Health Department.

The tremendous amount of water received during Hurricane Mathew caused our sewer systems to be overloaded and flooding problems ensured, according to the Health Department.

Shellfish harvesting is not allowed in the James, Back, or Lynnhaven Rivers.

"We've had so much rain and so much run-off it had to close these waters to harvest in an effort to protect the public," said Ludford.

Protecting the public from contaminated water is the goal. But it's costing people like Ludford who make their living on the water.

"The best scenario would be that we stick with this dry weather that we don't get any more rain," said Ludford.

The health department said they were out on the water Tuesday taking samples. They hope to have the results Wednesday but shellfish harvesting could be closed until November 1.