DEM Announces Extended Closure of Mount Hope Bay Shellfishing Area due to Wastewater Discharge in Bristol

The Rhode Island DEM on Tuesday announced an extension of the current shellfish harvesting closure in Mount Hope Bay due to an unpermitted wastewater discharge at the Mount Hope Bay pump station at the eastern end of Annawamscutt Avenue in Bristol. Shortly after 9 AM on Sunday, Oct. 22, DEM was informed that approximately 11,250 gallons of untreated wastewater was accidentally discharged from the Mount Hope pump station and entered the waters of Mount Hope Bay. At that time, the conditionally approved waters of Mount Hope Bay were already closed to shellfish harvest due to a rain closure that went into effect at sunrise on Oct. 22.

The current rain-related shellfish closure of all of the Rhode Island portion of Mount Hope Bay (Growing Area 17) remains in effect until sunrise on Sunday, Oct. 29. However, to safeguard public health and consistent with FDA guidance, the waters of Mount Hope Bay in the vicinity of the unpermitted wastewater discharge will remain closed to shellfish harvest until further notice. As a result, all RI waters of Mount Hope Bay north of a line extending from the southernmost tip of Mount Hope Point in Bristol east to the northern tip of Common Fence Point in Portsmouth are closed to shellfish harvest until further notice. This extended closure does not include the Kickemuit River (Growing Area 5). The extended closure in the area near the wastewater discharge will allow additional time for tidal dilution and shellfish depuration of potential pathogens. DEM will conduct water quality and shellfish meat testing to verify acceptable conditions prior to reopening the area to shellfish harvest.

Rhode Island shellfish are much sought-after seafood because of a long history of delivering a high-quality product. This is achieved by diligent monitoring of shellfish harvesting waters, protecting public health with a high level of oversight when conditions indicate a change in water quality either from natural sources such as algae blooms or by the quick response to emergency conditions. DEM, RIDOH, and the RI Coastal Resources Management Council, along with diggers, seafood dealers, and other industry partners, collaborate to ensure that shellfish grown and harvested from RI waters continues to be a safe seafood product to be enjoyed by all consumers.




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