RICHMOND (AP) -- A ban on shellfish harvesting in the upper York River has been lifted.

Sewage overflows prompted state health officials to close the area June 10 to watermen harvesting bivalve mollusks such as oysters and clams. It did not affect crabs or fin fish.

State health officials lifted the ban 12 days earlier than expected.

John Bull, spokesman for the Va. Marine Resources Commission, told, 'There are some shellfish grounds in the West Point area of the York River but not very many. It's pretty far upriver. Oysters prefer briny water.'

The department says remnants of Tropical Storm Andrea caused about 175,000 gallons of rainwater and sewage to overflow into the Mattaponi River, a tributary of the York River, in West Point.

'The sewage collection system in West Point was inundated, causing sewage to be discharged from several manholes,' Virginia Department of Health Shellfish Manager Keith Skiles told

Skiles said staff will be collecting and testing shellfish and will lift the closure when the water is safe.

The area affected by the ban included all of the York River upstream of a point drawn from Terrapin Point to Bellview. There is a risk of gastrointestinal illnesses if shellfish taken from the upper York River are eaten.

AP-WF-06-11-13 1501GMT

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