EPA Orders St. Croix Refinery to Close Until Proven Safe

Our Daily Planet

The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the Limetree Bay refinery in the US Virgin Islands to close for at least 60 days because its operation is an "imminent risk to public health," the agency said in a statement. The refinery had been closed for nearly a decade when it resumed operations in February thanks to a Trump administration permit. In the months since the plant has been operational, it has already spewed oil on residents and released toxic sulfuric gases and hydrocarbons into the air. The entire plant must stop operations until "we can be assured that this facility can operate in accordance with laws that protect public health," EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.

Why This Matters

The air pollution and oil emitted from the plant have long caused harm to the people of St. Croix, a majority Black island. For local advocates, the shutdown was a sign that their concerns were finally heard. The EPA used emergency powers under the Clean Air Act to order the shutdown, which has only been done three times before, according to the Washington Post. Thanks to this enforcement action, local residents will breathe cleaner air and not worry about oil literally raining down on them from the sky. It's also an example of the Biden administration upholding their promise to take on environmental racism.

Now This: How Air Pollution Exposes America's Racial Disparities, Jul 25, 2020.

Limetree's History of Pollution

While the refinery has caused plenty of damage in its short 2021 revival, it has a long history of polluting St. Croix and harming its residents:

WW0: Global Climate Justice - Rt Hon David Lammy MP in Conversation with Catherine Coleman Flowers, April 7, 2021.


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