NRDC and Gulf Groups Call on Federal Agencies to Improve Seafood Safety Testing Post Oil Spill

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Courtney Hamilton, 212-727-4569/ chamilton@nrdc.org

NRDC and Gulf Groups Call on Federal Agencies to Improve Seafood Safety Testing Post Oil Spill

Groups Concerned that FDA and NOAA Safety Protocols Lack Transparency and Could Be Strengthened to Ensure Long-Term Public Health

WASHINGTON - Today the Natural Resources Defense Council and almost two dozen Gulf
Coast groups called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to strengthen the
current protocols and data relied on to determine whether seafood is
safe for consumption and when to re-open areas for fishing. The groups
claim that over the long term, if current procedures are not improved,
they may not protect communities most vulnerable to contaminated
seafood. The groups specifically request that all sampling protocols and
data be made publicly available online to increase transparency and
improve public confidence in the monitoring program.

“With the opening of shrimping season and near-daily
re-opening of fishing areas, seafood safety is a major issue right now,”
said Dr. Gina Solomon, a senior scientist with the NRDC. “The
government needs to show it is putting strong safety criteria and
testing standards in place to ensure that the seafood from the Gulf will
be safe to eat in the months and years to come.”

The need for such testing is underscored by the huge amount
of oil that remains in the Gulf. According to the government’s own
assessment, as much as one half of the oil that was spilled -- the
‘dispersed’ and ‘residual’ fractions -- may still be in the
environment.  That’s a lot of oil, more than100 million gallons -- the
equivalent of nine Exxon Valdez size spills.

Letters to FDA and NOAA request that the agencies:

  • ensure there is comprehensive monitoring of seafood contamination;
  • ensure public disclosure of all seafood monitoring data and methods; and
  • ensure that fishery re-opening criteria protect the most
    vulnerable populations including children, pregnant women, and
    subsistence fishing communities.

The letters, sent on the heels of the opening of shrimping season in the Gulf and the publication of a Journal of the American Medical Association
commentary by Dr. Solomon on the health effects of the oil spill, were
co-signed by the following Gulf-based community, environmental and
religious groups:

Bayou Blue Presbyterian Church; Biloxi Branch NAACP; Center
for Environmental and Economic Justice; Deep South Center for
Environmental Justice (Dillard University); Federation of Southern
Cooperatives; Gulf Restoration Network; Holy Cross Neighborhood
Association; Hurricane Creekkeeper; Leadership Counts!; Louisiana Bucket
Brigade; Louisiana Environmental Action Network; Lower Mississippi
Riverkeeper; Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement &
Development; Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation;
Mobile Baykeeper; North Gulfport Community Land Trust; Portersville
Revival Group; Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services; Alabama
Chapter Sierra Club Mississippi Coastal Group, Sierra Club; New Orleans
Group, Sierra Club; United Church of Christ; Zion Travelers Cooperative
Center.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

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