Benefit Oyster Roast (copy) (copy)

Some customers have balked at buying any oysters after a sewage spill closed some local beds, even though suppliers have brought in oysters from other locations. State health regulators re-opened the beds after testing showed them clean. File

Oyster beds in the vicinity of the Stono River will reopen to harvesting Tuesday, state regulators said Monday.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control are reopening beds from Charleston Harbor south to the North Edisto River as of sunrise, after testing showed the waters were safe again.

The beds were closed in late February after a town of Hollywood sewerline spilled at least 2.4 million gallons from Feb. 19 to Feb. 26, according to DHEC.

Charleston Water System, which processes Hollywood wastewater, calculated that as much as 10 million gallons could have spilled, based on reduced wastewater flow measurements.

The closure disrupted at least two harvesting businesses, various restaurants and a number of wild harvesters. It has also put more harvesting pressure on beds in others areas such as Bulls Bay.

Fecal bacteria from the sewage can be trapped in the shellfish meat and cause health problems if the meat is eaten raw, which many consider a delicacy. The Stono and the rivers behind Folly Beach are the dominant oystering waterways in the affected area.

Hollywood, a rural Charleston County town of about 5,000 residents, has had issues with its sewer system in the past. In 2006, the town was fined $24,000 and put under a consent order by DHEC after 11 spills in the prior two years released more than 340,000 gallons of sewage into the environment.

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