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For Release: Wednesday, August 15, 2012

DEC Partially Rescinds Closure of Shellfishing Areas in the Town of Hempstead

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today reopened approximately 1,500 acres of shellfish lands in the Town of Hempstead on the south shore of Long Island. These areas, located east of the Wantagh State Parkway, were closed on April 1 to protect the public health following a determination by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and DEC that water quality data provided to DEC by the Town of Hempstead's laboratory were not reliable.

The decision to reopen the normally certified shellfish lands east of the Wantagh Parkway was based on extensive testing of water samples collected from South Oyster Bay by DEC. Shellfish lands in Hempstead Bay, west of the Wantagh State Parkway, remain closed.

DEC had previously closed shellfish lands in Hempstead Bay, west of the Wantagh State Parkway (Jones Beach Causeway), on February 17, 2012 following a similar determination. At that time, the FDA advised DEC that failure to close the areas promptly could effectively prevent the sale of all New York state shellfish products in interstate commerce. The areas below and west of Wantagh Parkway remain temporarily closed.

DEC is continuing to work with the Town of Hempstead to collect water samples from Hempstead Bay for testing in DEC's microbiology laboratory. When a sufficient number of water sampling runs have been conducted over a range of environmental conditions, the new water quality data will be analyzed to determine which sections of Hempstead Bay may be reopened to shellfishing.

For more information on temporary emergency shellfish closures and maps of the affected areas, visit the DEC website. A recorded message advising harvesters of the status of temporary shellfish closures may also be heard by calling (631) 444-0480.

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