The Limetree Bay oil refinery in St. Croix mentioned it might shut indefinitely, citing “extreme monetary constraints” a month after the Environmental Safety Company ordered an emergency shutdown of the plant, calling it an “imminent and substantial endangerment” to public well being on the island.
The EPA, which has jurisdiction over the U.S. Virgin Islands, issued the shutdown order in Could after a sequence of incidents through which oil was launched into the surroundings and despatched sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide into the air, each of which trigger respiratory sickness. Residents have described foul smells of their neighborhoods and oil raining down from the sky, contaminating water provides. EPA officers say they’ve obtained tons of of calls and emails complaining in regards to the plant since February.
Dyline Thomas, a 58-year-old resident on the island, mentioned she found oil in her yard in mid-Could. And simply two days earlier, a flare incident occurred on the Limetree Bay refinery upwind of her dwelling. As flames and smoke billowed out of the flare stack, oil droplets have been launched into the sky and carried by the wind, raining down on close by houses.
Limetree Bay has been working to acquire capital to help in its restart efforts, the corporate mentioned in a press launch Monday. Nevertheless it has been “unable to safe the required funding” and is chopping the refinery’s workforce by roughly 271 staff, efficient Sept. 19. “The Firm met with staff in the present day to announce the choice to droop the restart and clarify the transition course of for many who can be affected by it,” the corporate mentioned.
The refinery’s CEO Jeff Rinker mentioned shutting down indefinitely “was a particularly tough choice” however “that is our solely choice, given the acute monetary constraints going through the corporate.”
Below earlier homeowners, the plant filed for chapter and closed. It reopened earlier this yr, backed by personal fairness corporations.
The refinery was an enormous enhance for the financial system in St. Croix throughout the pandemic, offering income and jobs for individuals on the island.
In preparation for the prolonged shutdown, the refinery mentioned it should begin “safely purging gases from the entire models and eradicating any residual oil and merchandise within the strains.”
The CNN Wire contributed to this report