The Rhode Island DEM is announced Friday that the emergency shellfish harvesting closure of portions of Mount Hope Bay announced on Oct. 24 will end at sunrise on Monday, Nov. 13, 2023. Portions of the Mount Hope Bay conditional shellfish harvest area have been closed since Sunday, Oct. 22 due to an accidental discharge of 11,250 gallons of untreated wastewater from the Mount Hope pump station at the eastern end of Annawamscutt Avenue in Bristol entered the waters of Mount Hope Bay. To safeguard public health the waters of Mount Hope Bay in the vicinity of the sewage spill were closed to shellfish harvest immediately after the unpermitted wastewater discharge.
Consistent with FDA guidance for safe shellfish harvest, the area impacted by the spill was closed to shellfish harvest for 21 days to allow additional time for tidal dilution and shellfish depuration of potential pathogens. In addition, DEM and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) have analyzed water samples collected in the area to demonstrate acceptable and safe bacteria levels in the shellfish harvest area. Accordingly, the Mount Hope Bay conditional shellfish harvest area, also known as Growing Area 17-1 (GA17-1 on map) will return to the open status and normal operation at sunrise on Monday, Nov. 13, 2023.
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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