Posted: Jul 7, 2010 4:53 PM by Melissa Canone
BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals announced today that it is reopening oyster harvesting Area 7 to give harvesters as much time as possible to harvest their product before any potential impact from the BP oil spill in the Gulf.
Area 7, which is east of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish, was originally closed July 5, 2010 as a precaution in anticipation of possible oil intrusion. There has been no intrusion as of yet. DHH officials continue to monitor the area and have worked with the Food and Drug Administration and within federal protocols to facilitate the 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 reopen Area 7, which will take effect at sunrise July 8.
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 sanitarians 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 1 through 6, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 remain closed. In addition, areas 9, 10, 17, 19 and 21 remain 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.