State reopens harbor to oyster harvest
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) reopened Drayton Harbor to shellfish harvesting last week when tests on water and oyster tissue samples both revealed little if any effect from an April 19 manure lagoon mishap in the upper reaches of the California Creek watershed.
Don Lennartson, a DOH public health advisor, said that measurements taken on May 4 in water over the oyster beds showed less than 1.8 fecal coliform organisms per 100 ml of water, or below the lowest value that the test equipment can measure.
Avocet Labs in Bellingham tested tissue samples from oysters supplied by Geoff Menzies from the Drayton Harbor Community Oyster Farm and they too were “very clean,” according to Lennartson, who said Menzies was informed of this May 11. “The lowest number they can measure is 20 fecal coliform organisms per 100 grams of meat, and these were below that,” Lennartson said.
Lennartson said that the harbor was closed as a precaution that turned out not to have been necessary. A number of factors combined to mitigate the effects of the 450,000 gallon spill.
Geoff Menzies chose to not sell fresh Drayton harbor oysters in the Blaine Marina on May 7 as a further precaution even though the harbor was given a clean bill of health on May 4. A shipment sent out the next day was returned by buyers in Canada. Menzies picked up the oysters at the border and then returned them to the beds for harvesting later. “Sometimes people get nervous when there’s been a spill,” Menzies said, “even though the test results are positive, indicating no problem.”