EPA Orders Virgin Islands Refinery To Shut Down, Cites ‘Imminent’ Threat

"The St. Croix oil refinery, senior EPA official said, is ‘not how a normal refinery operates’"

"It didn’t take long for the Environmental Protection Agency official to discover the problem.

It was 7:10 p.m. on a Wednesday night. The EPA employee who had been deployed to the U.S. Virgin Islands to investigate an accident-plagued refinery emailed colleagues to give them the news: “there is oil on my windshield.”

On Friday, the Biden administration shut the plant down, citing an “imminent” threat to people’s health after several recent accidents contaminated St. Croix’s drinking water and left hundreds of people sick. In its 45-page order, the agency described the pollution’s impact in the words of its own employees who had come to stop it.

“The odor I briefly encountered was overwhelming and nauseating,” recounted another EPA staffer, who was coordinating the agency’s response on the island and inhaled gasoline-like fumes May 6. “I normally am suited up with respiratory protection and other [personal protective equipment] prior to being exposed to something like this.”"

Juliet Eilperin and Darryl Fears report for the Washington Post May 14, 2021.

Source: Washington Post, 05/17/2021