More than 720,000 acres of shellfish beds remain closed as a result of Hurricane Irene and the potential contamination the shellfish sustained during the hurricane, state officials said Wednesday.

Officials with the Department of Environmental Protection said in a press release the beds have been closed since Aug. 27 because the bivalves are undergoing testing for bacteria.

“The Department of Health and Senior Services urges commercial and recreational harvesters, certified shellfish dealers and the public to observe all harvesting restriction because ingesting shellfish from closed beds could potentially cause illness,” reads the release.

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Earlier this week, shellfish waters tested positive for various bacteria and exceeded the federal criteria for shellfish sales and consumption.

Once the water meets federal standards, a week must pass before shellfish are tested to ensure the bacteria has been flushed.

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