A view of Little Bay, seen from Dyke Road, in...

A view of Little Bay, seen from Dyke Road, in the Port Jefferson Harbor complex. A broken sewage pipe in East Setauket has led to the temporary closure of several beaches for swimming and the suspension of shellfishing in the Port Jefferson Harbor complex area. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

A broken sewage pipe in East Setauket has led to the temporary closure of several beaches for swimming and the suspension of shellfishing in the Port Jefferson Harbor complex area.

Wednesday, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services issued an advisory following the break of a main sewage discharge pipe in East Setauket. The health advisory alerted residents to avoid contact with these waters due to the possibility of high levels of pathogenic organisms. 

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says that the sewage pipe breakage, which occurred near the intersection of Route 25A and Runs Road in East Setauket, allowed the release of partially treated waste into Port Jefferson Harbor on Tuesday night. 

According to Suffolk County health officials, the broken sewage pipe was fixed at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.  But while the breakage has been addressed, health officials put out an advisory to avoid contact with the Port Jefferson Harbor, Setauket Harbor and Conscience Bay areas until Thursday at 6 a.m. 

Beaches such as Little Bay Beach, Grantland Beach, Bayview Beach, Indian Field Beach, and the Bayberry Cove Beach in Strongs Neck have all experienced precautionary closures due to the possibility of high levels of bacteria from sewage pipe breakage in East Setauket. 

They will be closed indefinitely until lab results determine if the water's bacteria is within safe limits. 

Christopher Gobler, a professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, says that the waters of Port Jefferson can naturally respond to such waste contamination. 

"Port Jefferson gets good flushing through the inlet from the harbor and Long Island Sound," Gobler said in an interview with Newsday. He said Port Jefferson's tidal flushing may also help in cleaning out sewage in nearby bodies of water. 

The DEC announced that it will be closing shellfishing areas within the entire Port Jefferson Harbor and its tributaries complex as a result of the sewage discharge. The prohibition impacts roughly 1,639 acres of shellfishing beds.

The closure will be in effect until the "conditions no longer exist" and it is determined that shellfish from the area are no longer hazardous to eat. 

Most of the spilled waste came from Stony Brook University's sewage treatment plant while it was traveling to the Port Jefferson sewage treatment plant, the DEC said.

Health officials advise individuals who come in contact with these waters to rinse with clean water immediately. If an individual is experiencing nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, skin, eye or throat irritation, or allergic reactions or breathing difficulties, seek medical help immediately, officials say. 

Tanner Park Beach in Copiague, Venetian Shores Beach in Lindenhurst, and Valley Grove Beach in Eatons Neck were also closed Wednesday to bathing due to bacteria levels exceeding state standards. Their reopening is subject to testing.

For more information, call the Bathing Beach HOTLINE at 631-852-5822, contact the Suffolk department's Office of Ecology at 631-852-5760 during business hours or check the department's website for beach program information.

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