No Intrusion of Oil Reported; Reopening Allows Harvesters Additional Time to Gather Oysters
BATON ROUGE (June 28, 2010) - The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals announced today that it is partially reopening oyster harvesting Areas 9 and 10 to give harvesters as much time as possible to harvest their product before any potential impact from the BP oil spill in the Gulf.
Areas 9 and 10, which are west of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish, were originally closed May 23, 2010, as a precaution in anticipation of possible oil intrusion. There has been no intrusion as of yet in either area being partially opened. DHH officials continue to monitor the areas and have worked with the Food and Drug Administration and within federal protocols to facilitate the partial reopening.
In addition to continued lab testing being conducted by the state, oyster harvesters "taste test" the oysters as they are pulled from the water to make sure their product is not contaminated.
DHH Secretary Alan Levine and State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry signed the order today to partially reopen Area 9 north of the 29.6.53 N latitude line and Area 10 north of 29.15.24 N, which will take effect at sunrise June 29.
DHH officials have been working closely with local, state and federal agencies to monitor the oil plume that continues to grow off of the Louisiana coastline for its potential impacts on oyster harvesting areas.
In addition to regular testing schedules, DHH scientists and engineers are conducting enhanced testing of oyster meat taken from the closed beds to monitor the presence of oil. Oysters being harvested in areas open for harvesting have been deemed safe by DHH.
Areas 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 28,29 and 30 remain closed. Areas 2 and 3 are partially closed. All other areas are open.
The public is encouraged to call a toll-free hotline, 1-800-256-2775, to report the presence of oil or an oil sheen.