About 150 people had a chance to meet top executives of Limetree Bay Terminals and Refinery during an open house Saturday at the University of the Virgin Islands’ Great Hall.
Outside, one of the corporation’s boats and several fire engines were on display along with a DJ and a table for children’s activities.
Inside, the hall was sectioned off for staff and equipment to demonstrate the various departments at the south shore facility. Upper management worked the crowd and answered questions.
One of the most popular areas was the marine unit, which showed a video of a single point mooring, similar to the refinery’s, being installed to upload and download petroleum products. John Peacock, the St. Croix mooring superintendent, explained that two 1,100-foot long pipelines would allow two super tankers at a time to take in or download product as deep as 100 feet or more. Today’s tankers have an 80-foot draft, compared to smaller vessels with 55-foot drafts. Remote valve controls allow any section of the pipeline to be closed in case of damage. Currently, the department is conducting testing on all aspects of the pipeline to ensure it’s ready when the refinery opens early next year.
“I’m in the operations side, so I want to make sure it’s all right,” Peacock said.
The fire safety unit handed out firefighters’ hats, coloring books and cardboard fire trucks for children, while Fire Chief Lee Hall explained training for firefighters at the refinery is similar to training for municipal fire departments, except at the refinery they will have additional education covering Limetree’s equipment and tanks.
The facility has its own hazardous materials unit and ambulance service.
One section of the hall was designated to explain refinery operations and displayed the computers used to remotely monitor everything going on within the facility. Victor Silva was recently hired by Limetree and just completed training as a processor operator. He was born on St. Croix and returned after working on the U.S. mainland for five years.
“I came back to visit the family and took the test, interviewed and came back,” he said.
Other departments on display included the environmental unit and human resources. Human Resources Director Tarah Hodge said about 78 percent of refinery workers either worked at the facility in the past or came home for the job. Currently, 28 openings can be found on the website.
Limetree Chief Executive Officer Brian Lever said there will be about 360 workers when the refinery is fully staffed, plus 200 contractors. Another 90 people will run the terminal with 30 outside contractors.
Other executives who attended the open house included Jeff Hersperger, senior vice president of Limetree Bay Terminals, and Bob Weldzius, senior vice president of Limetree Bay Refining.
“The very first thing of importance is the community, then the environment and then the wildlife,” Hersperger told the Source. “Limetree will form a community partnership before the refinery opens because the “community has a right to know.”