Friday, April 11, 2008

Kick My Ass, Please ...

BRUNSWICK, Maine (AP) — Thousands of acres on midcoast clam flats are closed because the state failed to complete shoreline surveys that are required by the federal government.

More than 50 commercial clamdiggers in the Boothbay Harbor region have not been able to dig clams because of the lapse.

"We are really cornered right now," said David Cheney, a clam digger from Bristol.

The flats were closed when officials learned that the staff person assigned to the region failed to complete the surveys, said David Etnier, deputy commissioner for the state Department of Marine Resources. The staffer, who was not named, retired in January.

The surveys must be completed every 12 years to comply with Food and Drug Administration and National Shellfish Program requirements. The surveys involve property-by-property assessments of potential pollution sources, such as failing septic systems or illegal washing machine discharges.

The FDA started to pressure the state last year when the missing surveys were discovered, Etnier said. The FDA has been monitoring the DMR’s shellfish program since 2004, citing concerns about understaffing, he said.

"From their point of view, this was unacceptable," he said.

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