Virginia Department of Health Closes a Portion of the Back River to Shellfish Harvesting

May 16, 2018

For More Information Contact          

Larry Hill, (757) 683-9175

(RICHMOND, Va.)— The Virginia Department of Health announced today that a portion of Back River in the City of Hampton will be closed to shellfish harvesting due to potential contamination from a sewage spill.

A sewer infrastructure failure caused a significant spill of raw sewage into a tributary of the Back River in the city of Hampton.  Due to potential microbiological pollution hazards, shellfish taken from areas affected by the emergency closure are currently unacceptable for consumption.

The emergency closure is effective May 16, 2018, and is scheduled to reopen effective June 7, 2018.  The Division of Shellfish Sanitation will monitor the shellfish and water quality during this period to determine if the area can be reopened sooner.

Maps of the affected areas are posted on the Division of Shellfish Sanitation’s home page at The affected shellfish are bivalve mollusks including oysters and clams, but not crabs or fin fish.

Ingesting shellfish taken from the closed areas at this time could cause gastrointestinal illnesses including norovirus, hepatitis A and shigellosis.

For more information on shellfish closures, see the frequently asked questions on shellfish condemnations at