The Louisiana Department of Health announced today the closure of oyster harvesting bed Area 13 as a precautionary response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf.

The closure is west of the Mississippi River in Lafourche and Jefferson parishes.

LDH Secretary Alan Levine and State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry signed the closure order, which will take effect at sunset today, Thursday, May 20, 2010.

LDH officials have been working closely with local, state and federal agencies to monitor the oil plume that continues to grow off of the Louisiana coastline for its potential impacts on oyster harvesting areas. Meanwhile, employees with LDH's Office of Public Health Molluscan Shellfish Program have continued regular testing of 8 million acres of coastal waters along the Louisiana shoreline.

In addition, LDH scientists and engineers are conducting enhanced testing of oyster meat taken from the closed beds to monitor the presence of oil, called hydrocarbon testing. Additional testing is also being conducted in unaffected oyster beds. These tests will create a baseline, which will be used to ensure the safety of oysters once the incident clears in order to reopen beds. Oysters being harvested in open areas are considered safe.

Areas 8 and 28 remain closed. Areas 2 through 7 and portions of areas 14, 15 and 17 north of the 29.10.16 N latitude line were recently reopened.

Closures will remain in effect until officials have determined that environmental conditions are within the requirements specified by the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.

The public is encouraged to call a toll-free hotline, 1-800-256-2775, to report the presence of oil or an oil sheen.

For more information related to the oil spill, visit Connect with us on and on Twitter @GOHSEP. View photos in from the state's response efforts at