Sewage discharge leads to clam, oyster harvesting ban in portion of Delaware Bay


Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn M. Garvin directed the Kent County wastewater treatment plant to take immediate action to correct an ongoing discharge that prompted an emergency order for the closure of recreational shellfishing.

The area affected is in the Delaware Bay north of the entrance to the Mispillion Inlet.

The emergency closure impacts only the harvest of bivalve molluscan shellfish – clams, oysters and mussels – and does not affect the legal harvest of other shellfish species such as crabs and conchs.

The order came after undertreated wastewater was discharged into the Murderkill River by the Kent County treatment plant.

Undertreated wastewater can contaminate shellfish growing areas. While there is no commercial oyster harvesting currently taking place in the Delaware Bay, recreational harvesting of hard clams does occur at this time of year.

The shellfish closure will last for 21 days after wastewater discharge issues at the Kent County treatment plant have been corrected and the bacterial water quality of the effluent has returned to acceptable levels.

The closure time frame is based on US Food and Drug Administration Guidelines under the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.

DNREC also advises not swimming in the affected area of Delaware Bay or other physical contact with the water.

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