The Louisiana Departments of Environmental Quality, Health and Hospitals and Wildlife and Fisheries have developed a seafood sampling plan for the areas of Calcasieu Estuary affected by the June 19, 2006, oil spill.

The plan, developed in cooperation with CITGO Petroleum Oil Corporation, will test the edible portions of fish, shellfish and oysters from that area to determine whether there are any sediments or residue behind that would require additional seafood consumption advisories.

DEQ will harvest blue crab, shrimp, spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, flounder and sheepshead for tissue sampling, and LDH will sample and test oyster beds in accordance with the usual Food and Drug Administration guidelines. All seafood tissue samples will be sent to the FDA lab for analysis, and the results should be available in mid-September.

LDH will analyze the results to determine whether any contaminants from the oil spill are present at levels that would be harmful to people’s health.

The initial round of testing will focus on areas that were most heavily affected by the oil spill. If this testing indicates a need for further testing of seafood from additional areas, more sampling may occur in the future.

A fish advisory was already in place for this area that recommended limiting consumption of fish from the Calcasieu Estuary because of low levels of contaminants present in fish. LDH will determine whether this advisory should be revised or expanded.

The departments have advised the public that the most prudent action is not to consume dead fish, fish with oily residue or a petroleum odor. Citizens should still follow these precautions as seafood sampling occurs, and should also adhere to the fish advisory already in place for the Calcasieu Estuary.

For more information about recreation and fish consumption, contact the Louisiana Department of Health (Shannon Soileau, 1-888-293-7020), the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (Tom Harris, 225-219-3393) or the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (Terry Romairie, 225-765-2394.)