VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A sewage spill in Virginia Beach is impacting traffic and has prompted an emergency ban on shellfish harvesting in much of the Lynnhaven River.
A 20-inch wastewater pipeline "failed" near the intersection of Shore Drive and Indian Hill Road late Thursday afternoon, causing a 150,000-gallon sewage spill, according to Leila Rice, a spokeswoman for the Hampton Roads Sanitation District.
The wastewater spilled into nearby Lake Joyce and Pleasure House Creek, which flows into the western branch of the Lynnhaven River.
Anyone who eats oysters or clams taken from those waters is at risk of gastrointestinal illness, so the Virginia Department of Health is closing the river in that area to shellfish harvesting.
Under the closure, watermen are not allowed to harvest any filter-feeding bivalve mollusks, but they can still catch crabs or fin fish, according to Larry Hill, a Virginia Department of Health spokesman.
The ban will be in place from January 14 until February 3, unless water samples show it is safe to fish in that area sooner, Hill said.
The spill has also caused traffic closures and delays on both Shore Drive and Indian Hill Road, as crews work to repair the pipe and clean up the spilled sewage.
Officials advise the public to avoid the area in the meantime and to wash any items that come into contact with water in that area, like fishing gear, life vests, ropes and paddles.
A map of the part of the river that is under the emergency closure is posted above and on the Division of Shellfish Safety's website.