Several areas of Nanaimo shoreline are closed to bivalve shellfish harvesting after a malfunction at the Chase River pump station released raw sewage into the Nanaimo Estuary Friday.
The Regional District of Nanaimo said an equipment malfunction during routine maintenance resulted in an overflow of wastewater into the Nanaimo Estuary near the pump station, which is located at the north end of Haliburton Street near the Island Highway.
Raw sewage leaked for about two hours directly into the Chase River, which drains into the estuary.
Sean DePol, manager of wastewater services for the RDN, said the faulty equipment was fixed and the overflow stopped, and that an earlier advisory for residents to avoid water contact in the area was lifted by Monday afternoon.
“We solved the problem as quickly as possible and notified all the necessary agencies immediately,” said DePol.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada responded by closing harvesting of all bivalve shellfish in Departure Bay, the northeastern portions of Newcastle and Protection islands, and the northwestern portion of Gabriola Island.
Elysha Gordon, resource management biologist with DFO, said the closure could last up to three weeks.
“It will be closed for 21 days unless there are samples that come in from a respectable sampler, water quality samples as well as shell stock samples, and if those come back approved at levels required for health and safety then it could be open within seven days,” she said. “But that’s only with sampling.”
For up-tp-date information on the areas affected as well as permanent closures, contact DFO at 250-754-0230 or go online to http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/contamination/biotox/index-eng.htm.