CHRISTIANSTED — Limetree Bay has suspended production and residents of Enfield Green in Frederiksted are being asked to disconnect their cisterns after the refinery sprayed more oil over homes, rendering area water unsafe to drink.
New noxious odors began Wednesday around noon, a week after similar gases permeated the west end of St. Croix for days, forcing the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and three area schools to close.
The Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) issued an emergency alert at 4:16 p.m. that there was a “fire” at the refinery, before quickly following up with another message saying that it was a “flare.”
Meanwhile, Limetree Bay issued a statement on Facebook, saying that the refinery’s emergency response team “is responding to a flaring incident onsite. There are no reported injuries at this time. More details will be provided as they become available.”
Just before 8 p.m., refinery spokeswoman Erica Parsons issued a press release detailing the extent of the damage.
“On Wednesday, Limetree activated its Incident Command in response to an upset in the refinery at Flare Unit #8. This incident resulted in a release of oil droplets which traveled directly west,” according to the statement. “Preliminary investigations have revealed that there has been an impact to the Enfield Green community, as well as some industrial sites. Residents in Enfield Green are asked to disconnect downspouts to cisterns if accessible. Residents are also asked not to consume the water. Water distribution will be established for affected communities.”
The refinery continued to operate despite forcing St. Croix residents to suffer through nearly a week of noxious stench, but Parsons said that Wednesday’s flare has caused the company to re-evaluate its operations.
“In response to today’s incident, Limetree Bay has decided to temporarily suspend production activities until further notice. All processing units will be brought to a safe, stable condition,” according to the press release. “Limetree will continue to assess the impact and advise if additional neighborhoods are affected. If you think you may have been impacted by the release, please contact Limetree’s Incident hotline at 340-692-3199.”
By SUZANNE CARLSON/The Virgin Islands Daily News