Watermen Lose Va Lawsuit Over Polluted Oyster Grounds – The Southern Maryland Chronicle

Richmond, VA- The Virginia State Supreme Court has ruled that a waterman does not have the right to be compensated for property damages if the oyster grounds he leases from the state are regularly polluted by a local sewage treatment facility.

Robert Johnson, who owns Johnson and Sons Seafood in Suffolk, VA, last year appealed to the state supreme court on behalf of oystermen, contending that the City of Suffolk and the Hampton Roads Sanitation District’s routine pollution of the Nansemond River — via sewage overflows from outdated infrastructure — amounts to damaging both property and livelihoods.  

But Justice Stephen R. McCullough wrote in his December 10 opinion that neither existing statutes nor case law, nor the oyster leases themselves, grant oystermen “the right to grow oysters in conditions free of pollution.”

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