Charleston restaurants turn to outside oyster farms after sewage spill

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Several restaurants in Charleston are having to find new places to get oysters after health officials temporarily shut down local oyster beds because of a massive sewage spill.

The spill happened in the town of Hollywood in the Stono River, but the closure affects shellfish harvesting form Charleston harbor south to the North Edisto River.

News of the spill has many Charleston residents worried for their health.

"It's surprising because I normally trust the quality of oysters out of our harbor more than anything else," Charleston resident Kevin Smith said.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control issued a recall on all oysters harvested in the affected area between Feb. 19 and Feb. 28.

The Noisy Oyster restaurant in downtown Charleston normally tries to buy oysters locally.

"We're all about farm to table," General Manager Ivan Roldan said. "Local is, for us, the way to go."

Since the spill, Noisy Oyster has had to buy its oysters from Virginia.

Roldan said the restaurant has plans in case situations like this happen.

"We've got systems in place for when this does happen," Roldan said. "And as this happens, it happens everywhere."

A DHEC spokesperson said it takes 21 days for the water and oysters to become healthy again.

Crews from DHEC will continue to monitor and test the water where the spill happened.

Once they find the readings safe, those oyster farms will be able to harvest again.

Roldan said as soon as he hears Charleston oysters are safe to eat again, the restaurant will continue to purchase from local oyster beds.

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