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Port Hamilton completes cleanup of hazards at oil refinery in US Virgin Islands after EPA investigation

by | Apr 29, 2024 | Federal Government, United States Virgin Islands | 0 comments

The EPA recently removed ammonia, amine, and liquid gas petroleum from an oil refinery in St. Croix after finding numerous hazards within the facility in September 2022. The EPA had ordered Port Hamilton, the refinery owner, to remove dangerous chemicals under government supervision. The previous owner, Limetree Bay, left the chemicals after a fire in 2022, which led to the inspection. While Hamilton claimed to have removed all the chemicals from the area, the EPA found around 32,500 gallons of liquid petroleum gas.

Besides the liquid petroleum gas, investigators found around 6,700 gallons of ammonia rinse water and 175,000 gallons of amine rinse water. The EPA recommends that these products be removed for disposal. The liquid petroleum gas is dangerous as it can cause asphyxiation and is extremely flammable. Still, the ammonia rinse water has proven to be dangerous for fish and other aquatic life. The EPA was also concerned by corrosion on the machinery in the factory. EPA Response and Prevention Branch Chief Doug Kodama said the corrosion is “indicative of a lack of piping integrity such that a potential for a loss of containment exists.” 

Kodama concluded the investigation by saying, “The inspectors concluded that Port Hamilton Refinery, the owners and operators, were not meeting the general duty to identify hazards that may result from accidental releases by using appropriate hazard assessment techniques to design and maintain a safe facility—taking steps necessary to prevent releases—and to minimize the consequences of accidental releases.” 

When the refinery plans to reopen, they have to provide a 90-day notice before resuming operations, at which point the EPA will review the company’s plans to ensure that they meet regulations. 

The company now plans to invest $100,000 in capital investments. Luis Cheverria, WIP manager of health, safety, security, and environment, said the company has a contract with ACS Oil Recovery to manage spills over 2,500 barrels. Spills under that amount can be managed internally. He also added that thousands of barrels have been transferred successfully, providing hope for the future of the refinery.  The US Coast Guard has been monitoring both the barrels that have been moved and the contract with ACS Oil Recovery to monitor any possibilities of spills.



Sanjana Dhanwantri

Sanjana Dhanwantri

Sanjana Dhanwantri is a junior at Edgemont High School in Westchester, NY. She is interested in politics and foreign affairs and hopes for a career in this field. Her hobbies include baking as well as drawing and reading. Sanjana is a Federal Affairs Intern Correspondent at Pasquines.


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