The Louisiana Departments of Health and Hospitals and Wildlife and Fisheries announced today the precautionary closure of oyster harvest Area 11 in response to an oil spill. Area 11 is west of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish.

LDH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein, Office of Public Health Assistant Secretary J.T. Lane and State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry signed the closure order, which will take effect at sunset today, Wednesday, February 27, 2013. Area 11 will remain closed indefinitely until it is determined the oysters are safe to eat.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, Tuesday night a crew boat sheared an inactive wellhead in Area 11, causing the oil spill. It was also reported that the well is spewing less than 20 barrels a day. The well has been out of service for five years.

Thursday morning, LDH will send personnel to Plaquemines Parish to assess Area 11 and the adjacent oyster harvest areas to determine if more closures are necessary.

LDH has notified local oyster harvesters that work the affected area, as well as the Louisiana Oyster Task Force.