Fish, Crabs and Shellfish Advisory

Press Release

Maryland Department of the Environment


Contact Information

Shellfish Contact: 1-800-541-1210
Prince George’s County: 301-883-7681
Charles County: 301-609-6751
Calvert County: 301-535-3922
St. Mary’s County: 301-475-4321
Maryland Dept. of the Environment: 1-800-633-6101 X3778 or 410-537-3778
Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene: 1-888-584-3110

Fish, Crabs and Shellfish Advisory

May 8, 2000 Update

The Maryland Department of Environment (MDE), in cooperation with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and local health departments received the results of laboratory analyses of fish, crab and shellfish samples taken from the Patuxent River following the spill. Samples from the affected area and surrounding waters were analyzed for substances that might indicate exposure to petroleum. The substances found were at levels similar to fish from other areas of the Chesapeake Bay which have not been affected by the oil spill. Therefore, we are confident that fish, crabs and shellfish harvested from the Patuxent River are safe to eat. It should be noted that common sense and individual judgment should always be exercised in determining whether, crabs, fish or any other food source is safe to eat.

April 24, 2000 Update

Fish and Crabs

As of April 24, 2000, MDE is lifting its earlier precautionary fishing and crabbing advisory for the Patuxent River in the area affected by the oil spill.

On April 14, 2000, in response to an oil spill in the Patuxent River, the Maryland Department of the Environment, in cooperation with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Department of Natural Resources and local health departments issued a precautionary advisory. This advisory was based the potential for oil to contaminate fish and crabs. The Department has subsequently received the results of laboratory analysis of fish and crab samples taken from the Patuxent River following the spill and finds that concentrations of petroleum contaminants in the fish and crab tissue do not pose a significant potential for adverse human health effects.

However, the Department cautions that there may continue to be patchy distributions of oil in sediments or some areas of the River that could contaminate fish or crabs. Individual fish or crabs that have a petroleum smell should be returned to the water and not harvested or consumed.

Shellfish

As of April 24, 2000, MDE is lifting its earlier emergency shellfish closure for the Patuxent River. Shellfish may be harvested commercially or recreationally in the Patuxent River. Shellfish harvesting restrictions due to water quality (bacteria) limitations that were in place before the oil spill will still apply.

On April 12, 2000, in response to an oil spill in the Patuxent River, the Maryland Department of the Environment closed the area to shellfish harvesting. This closure was based on the potential for oil to contaminate shellfish. The Department has subsequently received the results of laboratory analyses of shellfish taken from the Patuxent River following the oils pill finds that the concentrations of petroleum contaminants do not pose a significant potential for adverse human health effects.

However, the Department cautions that there may be patchy distributions of oil in sediments or some areas of the River that could externally contaminate shellfish. Individual shellfish that have a petroleum smell should be returned to the water and not harvested or consumed.

Other Advisories Remain in Effect

Beaches

On April 14, 2000, the Maryland Department of the Environment recommended that area residents use common sense in impacted areas. Residents should not use beaches and shorelines impacted by the spill for recreational purposes at this time. Pets and livestock should not be allowed access to areas contaminated by oil. If contact should occur, oil can be removed using a mild detergent. This precaution is still in effect.

Drinking Water

On April 14, 2000, MDE issued an advisory for individual drinking water supplies in the area affected by the Chalk Point oil spill. Drinking water supplies and/or public water wells have not been impacted by residual accumulations of oil from the spill. Residents in this area can confidently rely on the fact that their water wells and community supplies continue to remain safe to drink.

Future Updates

MDE will continue to assess the area impacted by the oil spill and will issue further updates as appropriate or warranted.

 

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