The Louisiana Department of Health announced today that it will reopen oyster harvesting area 9, 19, 21, 22 and 23 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 9, which is west of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish, was originally closed May 23, 2010. Areas 19, 21, 22 and 23 are in Terrebonne Parish and were also originally closed May 23. These areas were closed as a precaution in anticipation of oil intrusion. There has been no intrusion as of yet, and LDH officials continue to monitor the area, as well as an entire 8-million acre area off the Louisiana shoreline.
LDH Secretary Alan Levine and State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry on Friday signed the order to reopen area 9, 19, 21, 22 and 23, which will take effect at sunrise May 29.
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 registered sanitarians are conducting enhanced testing of oyster meat taken from the closed beds to monitor the presence of oil.
Areas 8, 10 through 15, 17 and 28 remain closed.
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.