China Bans NorCal Shellfish Imports Due To Toxic Arsenic Levels

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — China has suspended imports of shellfish from the U.S. West Coast, cutting off one of the biggest export markets for Northwest companies.

The Chinese government imposed the ban after discovering that recent shipments of geoduck clams from Northwest waters had high levels of arsenic and a toxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning.

The Chinese government says the ban that started last week will continue indefinitely.

Clams, oysters and all other two-shelled bivalves harvested off Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Northern California are affected.

The U.S. exported $68 million worth of geoduck clams last year — most of which came from Puget Sound. Nearly 90 percent of those geoduck exports went to China.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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