Health Dept. closes WA bay to shellfish harvesting

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EDISON, Wash. (AP) -- The Washington state Health Department says Samish Bay in Whatcom County has been closed to commercial shellfish harvesting due to high levels of fecal bacteria.

The Bellingham Herald reports the closures happen several times a year and typically follow heavy rains, which wash bacteria-laden runoff into the Samish River. State and local officials say failing septic tanks and farm animals are among the bacteria sources.

The closure was announced Monday. The bay will reopen to shellfish harvesting when water sample tests show bacteria counts have dropped to safe levels.

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Information from: The Bellingham Herald, http://www.bellinghamherald.com