The Louisiana Department of Health announced today that it is reopening oyster harvesting areas 27 and 28 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 27 and 28, which are west of the Mississippi River in Iberia Parish, were originally closed June 9 and May 26 respectively, as a precaution in anticipation of possible oil intrusion. There has been no intrusion as of yet in either area being opened. LDH 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.
LDH Secretary Alan Levine and State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry signed the order today to reopen areas 27 and 28, which will take effect at sunrise June 30.
LDH 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, LDH 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, 29 and 30 remain closed. Areas 2, 3, 9 and 10 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.
For more information related to the oil spill, visit http://www.emergency.louisiana.gov. Connect with us on www.facebook.com/GOHSEP and on Twitter as @GOHSEP. View photos from the state's response efforts at http://www.flickr.com/photos/lagohsep.