Portion of James River temporarily closed to shellfish harvesting after sewage spill in Newport News

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Posted at 9:36 PM, Jan 04, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Department of Health announced that a portion of the James River and its tributaries in Newport News, Suffolk and Isle of Wight County that was closed to shellfish harvesting due to a significant sewage release in early January will remain closed through at least February 3rd.

This comes after a major line break in Downtown Newport News resulted in a wastewater spill January 4.

Because floodwaters can be contaminated with pollutants such as pathogenic bacteria and viruses, the health department says shellfish taken from the area affected by the emergency closure are currently not safe to eat.

Ingesting shellfish taken from the closed areas at this time could cause gastrointestinal illnesses including norovirus, hepatitis A and shigellosis.

A map of a portion of the affected areas can be found below. It has also been posted on the Division of Shellfish Safety’s homepage, and the full interactive map showing all the areas closed to harvesting is available here.

James River shellfish harvesting closed (January 4).PNG

The affected shellfish are filter-feeding bivalve mollusks including oysters and clams, but not crabs or fin fish.

For more information on shellfish closures, see the frequently asked questions on shellfish condemnations online here.