The Maryland Department of the Environment has issued an order to temporarily close a portion of the Chesapeake Bay to shellfish harvesting as a precautionary measure due to sewage overflow.
The order covers 10,400 acres of bay in the area of Baltimore, Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County, expanding an area already closed to shellfish harvesting near Hart-Miller Island. The sewage overflow in question was stopped yesterday, and the newly closed areas will reopen for harvesting on Jan. 11.
The overflow is a concern because shellfish like oysters are typically eaten raw. When these filter feeders live in polluted water, they can collect disease-causing organisms, making them hazardous to consume.
According to a news release, the state was informed on Dec. 12 of a sewage overflow affecting a tributary to Back River. While the spill’s location made it harder to determine the exact volume of sewage, Baltimore County estimates that more than 2 million gallons were discharged into surface waters near the Muddy Gut tributary.