Second closure of area this month due to heavy rains

May 16, 2014

(RICHMOND, Va.)— The Virginia Department of Health announced today that a portion of the Rappahannock River will be closed to shellfish harvesting due to flooding. The emergency closure is effective May 17 through May 31, 2014, although the area may be reopened earlier if water quality monitoring results indicate that the area is no longer unsafe.

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

The runoff from another bout of heavy rainfall in a portion of western Virginia may have washed animal waste and human sewage into the rivers. Due to potential microbiological and chemical pollution hazards, shellfish taken from areas affected by the emergency closure are currently unacceptable for consumption. Monitoring shellfish beds for these hazards after flooding ensures that harvested seafood does not contain harmful substances that may make shellfish consumers ill.

“Heavy rains and flooding are common this time of year in Virginia,” said State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine, MD, MPH, FAAFP. “As heavy seasonal rains continue, additional closures are possible, especially as we move into hurricane season this summer. However, DSS closely monitors water quality results in order to reopen shellfish harvesting beds as soon as possible.”

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