Flood water contaminates oyster beds; closure impacting local businesses

Flood water contaminates oyster beds; closure impacting local businesses

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - It's the season for oyster roasts in Charleston. However, recent rainfall and flooding have contaminated the local supply, forcing many restaurants and non-profit benefits to change their plans for the fall.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control has closed down the Charleston County's shellfish harvesting.

This closure stretches from St. Helena Sound all the way up to the North Carolina state border.

DHEC says excessive rainfall and flooding has caused contamination of the oyster beds. The increased bacteria levels in the shellfish make them unsafe to eat.

That means local oysterman are out of business right now, or having to travel south of the closure line to make up for lost harvest.

Many restaurants across the Lowcountry pride themselves on menus full of locally harvested oysters. But, the recent oyster harvest closures are forcing them to fill their plates with clams from up north or further south.

Local non profit organizations also use this seafood favorite to bring in crowds for fall oyster roast benefits. Now, they're having to change to things like barbecue to feed their attendees.

DHEC says it will continue to sample shellfish around the area and may open the harvest season back up, in the next few months, if bacteria levels go down to a healthy level.

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