TALL TIMBERS, Md. — After scary flooding struck Southern Maryland around Halloween, an unfortunate sewage overflow in St. Mary’s County has reportedly led to 27 people in Virginia getting sick after consuming oysters out of St. George’s Creek.
Between 10,000-25,000 gallons of sewage reportedly overflowed into waterways off Piney Point Road in Tall Timbers throughout that weekend. After the spill, the St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission(Metcom) issued a “no water contact” advisory for 10 days. But there were concerns that oysters were still being harvested from the area.
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) was made aware on Nov. 13 of reported illnesses associated with events from the previous weekend where oysters from Southern Maryland were served in Loudoun County and Fauquier County in Virginia. MDE immediately took steps to put an emergency shellfish harvesting closure in place effective that day.
“A sewage overflow that took place from Oct. 28-30 at a Metcom pump station was reported to MDE. However, the information was not conveyed within MDE to our shellfish program, who would have then temporarily closed the nearby harvesting area,” Deputy Director of the MDE, Jay Apperson, said.
“To our knowledge, this is the first time something of this nature has happened. We are now working on improving our coordination within programs, through retraining and building redundancies into our process, as a safeguard to prevent this from happening in the future. We also plan to reach out to Metcom to determine whether there are any improvements that can be put in place to address flooding at the pump station during weather events.”
Those sickened by the tainted oysters reportedly suffered from gastrointestinal illness after consuming Southern Maryland oysters at a “temporary food establishment” that was serving at several local breweries and wineries. Of the 27 people who reported illness, only two reportedly sought further medical attention.
As of Nov. 18, MDE received results from their bacteria lab showing no fecal bacteria in the water, which put oysters on the way to being safely harvested from the area once again.
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