St. Croix Refinery That Rained Oil on Homes Shuts Down ‘Indefinitely’

An aerial view of the Limetree Bay refinery in St. Croix, Virgin Islands.

The Limetree Bay refinery that rained oil on St. Croix neighborhoods will remain shut down “indefinitely,” its private equity owners said Monday.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shut down the refinery in May for 60 days after it spewed oil onto nearby predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods twice since reopening in February. The noxious pollution sent residents to emergency rooms and locals worry their drinking water is now laced with the oil that fell from the sky.

The Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition is conducting a survey of the refinery’s health and environmental impacts along with two Bennington College professors (one of whom is a former EPA official who monitored the plant). VIGFC Executive Director Sommer Sibilly-Brown said she worried for those who will lose their jobs, as well as those harmed by the pollution.

“We are a community of black and brown people who have been historically burdened by the effects of the refinery and left with the aging facility, undocumented health impacts, and no remediation to environmental impacts caused by refining,” she told The Washington Post.

As reported by CNN:

In preparation for the extended shutdown, the refinery said it will start “safely purging gases from all of the units and removing any residual oil and products in the lines.”Dyline Thomas, a 58-year-old resident on the island, said she discovered oil in her yard in mid-May. And just two days earlier, a flare incident occurred at the Limetree Bay refinery upwind of her home. As flames and smoke billowed out of the flare stack, oil droplets were launched into the sky and carried by the wind, raining down on nearby homes.

For a deeper dive:

The Washington Post, E&E, AP, Reuters, CNN, S&P Global, The Hill, Virgin Islands Daily News

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