New Orleans-area fish, shrimp, crab are OK to eat; oysters, not so much

Though few folks are there to eat it, much of the seafood from Lake Pontchartrain next to New Orleans seems safe for consumption, say state environmental officials. About 80 percent of the city’s sewage-tainted floodwaters have been pumped into the lake, but so far no significant chemical contamination has turned up: “There is no toxic soup,” says state Department of Environmental Quality’s Chris Piehler. The agency says properly prepared crabs, shrimp, and fish are safe to nosh. But avoid Pontchartrain oysters — according to Louisiana wildlife officials, these could take up to two years to recover. In further guarded good news, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is reporting that although oil sheens were seen in the Gulf of Mexico after Katrina hit, fish sampled two weeks later have tested negative for oil contamination. NOAA scientist Steve Murawski is encouraged, but cautious: There are still many “very small spills originating from the many, many [storm-damaged] vessels on the Mississippi coast,” he notes.