HUGO HODGE’S LAST DAY ENDS WITH A MAJOR OIL SPILL AT ST. CROIX PLANT
EMBATTLED: Hugo Hodge Jr.
CHRISTIANSTED – The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority said it worked all night and into the morning today as part of a clean-up effort to remove 50 gallons of oil that seeped into the ocean in front of its Estate Richmond plant.
WAPA Acting Chief Executive Officer Julio Rhymer said Thursday afternoon that the spill happened “just off the fuel dock” in Richmond. WAPA estimated that at least 50 gallons of oil seeped into the waters around the utility’s fuel dock after oil/water separation equipment became compromised late Thursday morning.
“The sheen was first noticed by plant personnel around 12 noon which caused WAPA to engage its emergency response plan to both contain and clean up the spilled oil,” Rhymer said.
On Friday WAPA will investigate why the final leg of a dual safeguard oil/water separation system failed causing the spill.
Containment booms were deployed Thursday and absorbent materials are being used to clean up the heaviest of the spilled oil which has been contained in the general vicinity of the fuel dock, according to WAPA.
“There is a light sheen that extends along the shoreline to the east of the plant closer to the Seaborne seaplane terminal in Estate Watergut. It is estimated that we have removed about 40 to 45% of the spilled oil but there is a ways to go until all the spilled petroleum-based product has been removed from the water,” Rhymer said.
WAPA has been in contact with the U.S. Coast Guard, its National Response Center and with a number of local government regulatory agencies. “A Coast Guard inspection will be required at the end of the clean up to ensure that the oil product has been removed to a satisfactory level before the clean-up can be deemed completed,” Rhymer said.
Today is supposed to be former CEO Hugo Hodge Jr.’s last day at WAPA after the board voted to not allow him to continue serving as executive director and CEO until June as he was contracted to do.
In May of 2015, people with access to the WAPA Richmond plant destroyed a bulldozer valued at nearly $1 million dollars and a vehicle valued at $20,000 when they set fire to them in a protest over off-island hires by VITOL.