BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — Around 10 million gallons of partially treated wastewater was released into the Mount Hope Bay on Sunday, according to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM).
The main circuit breaker at the treatment facility in Fall River shorted overnight, causing the water to bypass the plant’s pumps, the DEM said.
As a result, the Rhode Island section of the Bay and the Kickemuit River have been closed to shellfishing for the next seven days.
WATCH: Fall River officials provide an update on the situation (Story continues below.)
“We’re talking about a small area in Bristol in Mount Hope Bay that’s right near Roger Williams University,” DEM spokesperson Mike Healey said.
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The goal of the closure is to prevent contaminated seafood from making it into the food supply.
“What we’re trying to do by announcing this closure is to prevent any diggers from going out digging quahogs and then to have potentially contaminated quahogs into the food system,” Healey said.
The circuit breaker that shorted was reset around 11:00 a.m. Sunday and the wastewater treatment facility returned to normal operations, according to the DEM.
The DEM said they do not expect any additional shellfish closures and there shouldn’t be any long-term impacts.
“You have strong water currents coming down from the Taunton River and then you have a tidal water body that is not a huge bay and once it enters Narragansett Bay, it’s going to quickly disperse towards the ocean,” Healey said.
For more information on emergency and conditional area water quality-related shellfish closures, call DEM’s 24-hour shell fishing hotline at (401) 222-2900.