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Fri May 7, 2021, 04:45 AM

After another leak, EPA probes whether St. Croix refinery poses 'an imminent risk to people's health

The Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that it was weighing whether a controversial refinery on St. Croix posed “an imminent risk to people’s health” after a third accident in the span of three months sickened local residents and forced three schools to close.

Residents across the island — some living as far as 10 miles away from Limetree Bay Refining’s operations on the south shore — began reporting feeling nauseous and ill on Wednesday after gaseous fumes started leaking from one of its oil refining units. The leak persisted Thursday, prompting the closure of two primary schools and a technical educational center.

“EPA takes very seriously the reports from today and in recent weeks of children, families, and individuals becoming sickened by emissions around the Limetree Bay facility,” the agency said in a statement. “If EPA makes a determination that the facility’s operations present an imminent risk to people’s health, consistent with its legal authorities, it will take appropriate action to safeguard public safety.”

The company, which has suffered two other accidents since restarting operations on Feb. 1, confirmed in a statement that it had “become aware of an odor affecting areas west of the facility,” adding that maintenance work on a “coker unit,” which processes oil at a high heat level, “has resulted in light hydrocarbon odors.”

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/05/06/limetree-bay-refinery/

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