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VING Civil Support Team Finds Elevated Levels of Sulfur Dioxide in Atmosphere

KINGSHILL — Preliminary air quality testing conducted by the Virgin Islands National Guard Civil Support Team today found elevated levels of sulfur dioxide in the air near the Limetree Bay Refinery, Government House said.

Today’s findings were the result of new monitoring instrumentation in place and the mobilization of VING’s Civil Support Team, according to Government House.

The Virgin Islands National Guard Civil Support Team joined the investigation into the source of the noxious odor after being activated by Governor Albert Bryan and identified the chemical constituents after conducting air quality monitoring Friday afternoon into this morning.   

The team’s preliminary reading found elevated quantities of Sulfur Dioxide in the air near the refinery, which has narrowed the investigation to the small industrial corridor on the island’s south shore that includes the refinery, the Diageo Rum Distillery, Anguilla landfill, and the Asphalt plant north of the landfill.  

However, readings conducted outside the other facilities today did not provide any elevated readings of harmful chemical constituents.    

While the refinery did not identify a particular upset. Based on the chemical constituents present in the atmosphere, the team’s investigation continues to center on the refinery but has not ruled out other sources.  

The Government of the Virgin Islands received additional air quality monitoring instruments from the Environmental Protection Agency in support of the ongoing investigation. 

The monitoring instruments arrived in St. Croix Saturday and will be utilized by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources and the EPA and will be deployed throughout the island to conduct continuous air quality monitoring in support of confirming the exact source of the odor. 

Once the source is confirmed and identified, the Government’s Unified Command team will take definitive action to eliminate the source and seek appropriate remedies and penalties with the appropriate parties.  

In the team’s continued effort to confirm or rule out other chemical constituents causing the odor, VING’s Civil Support Team will be stationed in Frederiksted town this evening in the effort to quickly mobilize and conduct air quality testing in response to resident complaints.  

Residents with respiratory ailments such as allergies, lung disease, or asthma are strongly encouraged to consider staying indoors or taking other protective actions. 

If you have questions or need to report the smell of a noxious or gaseous odor, please call DPNR at (340) 773-1082 ext. 2221 or the Environmental Health Division at (340) 718-1311 ext. 3709. 

The local government’s Unified Command team will continue its response through this evening and provide an update tomorrow.

Former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator Judith Enck retweeted this Virgin Islands Free Press article on Twitter Sunday May 9, 2021.

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VI Free Press

VI Free Press

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