Joe's Job: Oyster shell recycling with Lynnhaven River Now

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by Joe Flanagan, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on September 18, 2013 at 6:23 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 18 at 6:40 PM

VIRGINIA BEACH -- Joe's Job took him to Virginia Beach to help Lynnhaven River Now collect recycled oyster shells that will be returned to the river to help filter the water.

Our first stop was Captain George's Seafood Buffet on Laskin Rd. They have a system like several other beach area restaurants, where they leave their oyster shells in big gray tubs.  All you do is dump the tub in a bushel and load the bushels into Mike Minor's trailer.

"The smell is quite atrocious at times especially in the heat of the summer, yes. So we have been lucky with a little cool spell but it is heating back up so the smell is getting nicer," said Mike Minor.

Next was Ocean Eddie's and on a Wednesday they have about the same amount of oyster shells as Captain George's. Mike, Meredith and I were emptying tubs into bushels and then loading bushels on the trailer.  And the flies were our constant companions.

The Lynnhaven River Now folks are pleased with the way this recycling program has progressed.  "It's going great; it started in 2006, we had only 8 restaurants at that time signing up and now we have 23!" said Meredith Malone.

And these restaurants aren't the only locations for oyster shell recycling.  Public recycling drops include a spot at the Virginia Aquarium, Whole Foods, and the Lynnhaven River Now office.

"Month before last July we had 308 bushels of oyster shells collected.  And that was the most on record for the Lynnhaven River Now for most collected in a month," added Malone.

The landfill is the last stop before the shells wind up back in the Lynnhaven River.  When the bins fill up the shells get transferred to big piles where they dry out for around 18 months.

"An adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day. So multiply that out 1,000 oysters and 50,000 gallons," continued Minor.

Mike has developed a real system that works. He calls it his gym workout as he lifts and dumps heavy bushels of shells.

Mike Minor recycles oyster shells Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.  Passionate about the water, he also runs a rain barrel business. But that's another story another day.

So how would I do recycling oyster shells with Mike?

"Well from my experience today I think Joe you're hired when I need a part-timer I think I will call you up and you can do this for me. So, how's that?"

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