Virginia Department of Health Expands Closure of the Back River and Tributaries to Shellfish Harvesting

December 21, 2018

For More Information Contact: Larry Hill, Eastern Region PIO, (757) 683-9175

(RICHMOND, Va.)— The Virginia Department of Health announced today that a portion of the Back River in the cities of Hampton and Poquoson is temporarily closed to shellfish harvesting due to a spill of raw sewage impacting water quality in the river.  Due to potential microbiological pollution hazards, shellfish taken from areas affected by the emergency closure are currently unacceptable for consumption.

The temporary emergency closure is effective December 21, 2018, and is scheduled to reopen effective January 12, 2019.  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