• 79°

Health department urges caution on Shingle Creek

The Virginia Department of Health is urging caution to anyone engaged in activities near Shingle Creek, the confluence of the Nansemond River with the creek to the Route 17 Bridge crossing of the river on Bridge Road following the Suffolk Pump Station sewage spill Sept. 19 in the creek.

The 2.5-million-gallon spill was one of several spills that took place at Hampton Roads Sanitation District pump stations and resulted from excessive rain from the remnants of Hurricane Sally. The pump station moves wastewater flow from a portion of downtown Suffolk to the Nansemond Treatment Plant in North Suffolk.

The HRSD said repairs are under way.

“The HRSD will continue to monitor water quality in Shingle Creek and the Nansemond River and provide results to the Virginia Department of Health in order to assess the risk to the public from the sewage that was released,” said Margaret Smigo, Waterborne Hazards Program coordinator, in a news release.

The state health department has already closed part of the Nansemond River for shellfish harvesting due to the spill, which has impacted water quality in the area.

It said shellfish — bivalve mollusks including oysters and clams, but not crabs or fin fish — cannot be eaten due to potential microbiological pollution hazards.

The affected locations are scheduled to be reopened Oct. 9.

To prevent illness, people should:

  • Avoid contact with any area of the waterbody where there is water with a foul odor, dead or dying fish, or discolored water.
  • If you cannot avoid contact with water in the vicinity of Shingle Creek, the confluence of the Nansemond River with Shingle Creek (just below Route 32/Main Street) to the Route 17 Bridge (Bridge Road) crossing of the Nansemond River, promptly wash skin with soap and water.
  • If you experience adverse health effects after contact with the waterbody, seek medical care and notify your practitioner of the waterbody exposure.

Residents are advised to avoid contact and use of Shingle Creek until further notice.