The Louisiana Department of Health announced today the closure of oyster harvesting bed areas 2 and 3 in response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf.
The closures, which will take effect today at sundown, are east of the Mississippi River in St. Bernard Parish. Areas 2 and 3 are closed at 29 degrees 57 minutes 29.6 seconds north latitude; thence northward to Isle au Pitre at 30 degrees 09 minutes 20.5 seconds north latitude from the double rig line westward to 89 degrees 17 minutes 10 seconds west longitude.
LDH Secretary Alan Levine and State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry signed the closure order, which will take effect at sunset today, Friday, May 28, 2010.
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 coastli! ne for its potential impacts on oyster harvesting areas. Meanwhile, employees with LDH's Office of Public Health Molluscan Shellfish Program have continued regular testing of 8 million acres of coastal waters along the Louisiana shoreline.
In addition, LDH scientists and register sanitarians are conducting enhanced testing of oyster meat taken from the closed beds to monitor the presence of oil, called hydrocarbon testing. Additional testing is also being conducted in unaffected oyster beds. These tests will create a baseline, which will be used to ensure the safety of oysters once the incident clears in order to reopen beds.
Areas 8, 10 through 15, 17 and 28 remain closed. Areas 9, 19, 21, 22 and 23 will be reopened as of sunrise May 29.
The public is encouraged to call a toll-free hotline, 1-800-256-2775, to report the presence of oil or an oil sheen.
Officials with LDH are working closely the Governor's Office for Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness as the situation develops. 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. Also find more about LDH at www.dhh.louisiana.gov.