ST. GEORGE ISLAND, Md. — Thousands of gallons of sewage flowed into a St. Mary’s County waterway, prompting an emergency order to stop shellfish harvesting in part of the county. It’s possible some polluted oysters may have been sold.

The Maryland Department of the Environment said a sewage overflow prompted it to issue the emergency order on January 2.

The order applies to part of the St. George Creek area of the St. Mary’s River. Harvesting of oysters and other shellfish is not permitted  until January 21, 2021. The emergency order does not apply to fishing and crabbing.

Since shellfish feed by filtering water, they can concentrate potentially dangerous organisms found in raw sewage. 

MDE said it will work with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Department of Health to find out if oysters have been harvested from the area recently.

A local oyster farm said it was in the process of tracking down and recalling 600 oysters sold recently. 

The county reported the overflow to MDE around 7 pm on January 2. The overflow happened on St. George Island near the Route 249 bridge after a sewer main ruptured. Officials don’t know when overflow started but say it was stopped around 6 pm on New Year’s Eve. 

Between 4,000 and 6,750 gallons of sewage is believed to have been discharged.

The attached map shows the affected area with the demarcation line.

All the waters of St. George Creek, St. Mary’s River upstream of a line extending in a northeasterly direction from Ball Point on St. George Island to Cherryfield Point on the opposite shore and downstream of a line extending in a northeasterly direction from the easterly tip of Hodgson Point (38°09’07.5″ North Latitude, 76°30’26.0” West Longitude) to a point of land on the south end of Streams End Point (38°09’16.5″ North Latitude, 76°30’15.2” West Longitude) then continuing in a southwesterly direction to a point of land on the eastern shore of Schoolhouse Branch (38°09’10.6″ North Latitude, 76°29’58.3” West Longitude) on the opposite shore.