Michael S. Regan, Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of the Administrator, Mail Code: 1101A
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
RE: Request for deployment of an Emergency Response Team to St. Croix, Virgin Islands
Dear Administrator Regan:
As St. Croix community members and allies, we are grateful for the assistance that your staff has provided us as we work to fully ensure that Limetree Bay Terminals LLC and Limetree Bay Refining (collectively, “Limetree”) are operating the Limetree Bay Refinery, (the “refinery”) on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands with the appropriate permits and safeguards.
We write to you today to bring to your attention the grievous harm now occurring on St. Croix from the Limetree Refinery, and to ask for your help.
Last week, three schools and the St. Croix vaccination center were forced to close due to chemical releases from the refinery.
Residents reported overwhelming smells and odors that caused them nausea, their eyes to water, and burning of the throat and lungs.
Residents experienced adverse health effects over five miles away from the plant. This situation is intolerable, and we are requesting EPA’s help. Since the refinery reopened this February, a fire, a series of large flaring events, chemical and oil releases, and an apparent lack of appropriate monitoring continue to compound a serious environmental injustice.
We are requesting that you deploy an appropriately equipped emergency response team to investigate emissions from the refinery. As well, we would like EPA to investigate the public health impacts from these ongoing releases. During a pesticide poisoning incident on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, EPA sent its public affairs staff door-to-door to investigate who was harmed by the exposure. We feel that this situation now demands a similar response. As well, we know that EPA has access to advanced monitoring equipment that will help illuminate what types of emissions are emanating from the facility.
We feel strongly that these releases must not be allowed to continue. We understand that chronic exposure to these releases can cause irreparable harm to the health of the residents of the island.
Thank you for your dedicated and timely responses to our concerns regarding the permitting of this facility and we look forward to continued engagement with EPA as we work to ensure the safety of the St. Croix community in the face of this refinery.
We thank you for your kind and timely response to our request.
Elizabeth Leigh Neville Esq., Owner and Attorney at Law at The Neville Law Firm LLC
On behalf of:
St. Croix Environmental Association,
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC),
Center for Biological Diversity, and the
Vermont Law School Environmental Justice Clinic