RDN Map Map of the area where DFO has imposed closure of harvesting of shellfish due to threat of contamination.

Shellfish closure ordered after Qualicum Beach sewage leak

French Creek Pollution Control Centre mishap triggers three-week shutdown

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans imposed temporary shellfish closure in Parksville, Qualicum Beach and French Creek due to sewage that flowed from a manhole onto the beach in front of Judges Row in Qualicum Beach on Aug. 2.

DFO’s Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program coordinator Elysha Gordon said the untreated waste water came from the French Creek Pollution Control Centre.

“It wasn’t a lot but it was onto the beach,” said Gordon. “Whenever we have a sewage release we have this pre-determined closure that goes in place. It’s all those sub-areas that are unfortunately impacted.”

Residents in Parksville Qualicum Beach and in French Creek are advised not to harvest any shellfish that include mussels, oysters, Little clam, and Manila clam as well as scallops. Eating contaminated shellfish can make you ill. It is also illegal and usafe to harvest when an area is officially closed.

“Most the often the closure is for 21 days max or seven days if there are samples taken,” said Gordon. “I don’t think there will be samples taken. So we’re just going to ride out its course. So it will be 21 days after the sewage was stopped.”

Gordon said no punitive action will be taken against the French Creek Pollution Control Centre.

“They were doing routine work on their pump station when something happened with one of their manholes where sewage came out onto the beach,” said Gordon. “It’s one of the best sewage plants that we deal with. I am just not sure what happened.”

The Regional District of Nanaimo is currently investigating the cause of the leak. When discovered, the event was reported to Emergency Management BC, and contact was made with the Ministry of Environment. Notices were also delivered to nearby residents and placed at the public beach accesses nearby.

For details on all current shellfish closures in B.C. please visit: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/contamination/index-eng.html

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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