Portion of Back River in Hampton Closed to Shellfish Harvesting

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has announced that a portion of the Back River in Hampton is closed to shellfish harvesting after possible contamination from a sewage spill.

Photo: Maryland Fisheries Service DNR, Michael Hammond

The VDH says the spill, which was caused by a failure in sewer infrastructure, entered into a tributary of the Back River in Hampton. The Department warns that because of “potential microbiological pollution hazards, shellfish taken from areas affected by the emergency closure are currently unacceptable for consumption.”

Shellfish affected by the emergency closure are bivalve mollusks including oysters and clams. Crabs and fin fish are not affected. 

The closure is expected to be lifted on June 7, although the Division of Shellfish Sanitation will monitor water quality and shellfish to determine if an earlier reopening is possible. 

The VDH warns the public that consuming shellfish taken from the affected areas could cause norovirus, hepatitis A, shigellosis, or other gastrointestinal illnesses.

To view maps of the affected areas, click here. Learn more about shellfish closures by clicking here.

-Laura Boycourt