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EPA Announces Requirement of New Clean Air Permit for Oil Refinery on St. Croix Before Operation, Ensuring Public Health Protections

 Issued: Nov 17, 2022 (11:06am EST)

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EPA Announces Requirement of New Clean Air Permit for Oil Refinery on St.
Croix Before Operation, Ensuring Public Health Protections

Requirement of new Prevention of Significant Deterioration Permit advances EPA
commitment to ensuring equal protection under the law for all communities


WASHINGTON (Nov. 17, 2022) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) announced that the oil refinery on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands
may not resume operations without obtaining a new comprehensive Clean Air Act
permit. The new permit, called a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD)
permit, would require detailed air quality analyses and the use of the best
available air pollution control technology. The facility is located near
historically marginalized communities that are overburdened with pollution,
including pollution from this refinery that led EPA to issue an emergency
order to pause all operations in May 2021.

“As Administrator, I am committed to prioritizing the health and safety of
underserved and overburdened communities across this country and holding
polluters accountable. That is why EPA is using its full authority under the
law to require this facility to analyze its impact on air quality and use the
latest air pollution controls before it resumes operations," said EPA
Administrator Michael S. Regan. “This will ensure protections for St. Croix
by requiring the refinery to operate in compliance with environmental laws
designed to protect people’s health and the environment."

“Today we are continuing to make good on our promise to deliver
environmental justice and ensure that EPA protects the health of every
community, regardless of race, zip code or income,�?? said EPA Regional
Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “EPA takes seriously our responsibility to the
nearby communities, which have carried the burden of mishaps at this facility
for far too long.�??

A PSD permit limits emissions to levels that can be achieved by applying the
best available air pollution control technology, which for this refinery would
likely result in significant reductions of emissions of nitrogen oxides and
volatile organic chemicals, and reductions in sulfur dioxide, hydrogen
sulfide, carbon monoxide and particulate matter. The permit process also
requires an air quality analysis to determine if the facility would cause
pollution levels in the air to exceed EPA air quality standards. If a standard
were to be exceeded, further reductions would be required in the PSD
permitting process.

In addition to the PSD considerations, EPA is also continuing oversight of
this facility, which is not currently operating. In September, EPA inspected
the refinery to determine the general state of chemical safety at the
facility. During that inspection, the Agency noted serious deficiencies in how
this facility has been maintained. EPA quickly alerted the company to the
deficiencies and issued a detailed inspection report, which was also shared
with the public. EPA is actively discussing the chemical safety issues with
the company and determining next steps to address the issues.

EPA has previously taken numerous enforcement actions related to this
facility, including setting up a community hotline, developing a dedicated
website, and engaging regularly with the community. 



Hess Oil built the refinery, which was once the largest in the western
hemisphere, in the mid-1960s. Later, HOVENSA owned the refinery, and
subsequently the facility was owned by Limetree Bay Refining. West Indies
Petroleum Limited and Port Hamilton Refining and Transportation, LLLC emerged
as the winning bidder for the Limetree Bay refinery from an auction held in
bankruptcy court in December 2021.

It has been nearly 11 years since HOVENSA shut down its refining operations at
this facility. The EPA considers the refinery a new major air pollution source
that requires an additional PSD permit and installation of the best available
air pollution control technology before any start of refinery operations.
EPA’s most recent modification to the refinery's existing PSD permits was in
August 2011.

Separate from the need for a new PSD permit, there are numerous federal and
local environmental requirements with which the refinery must comply before it
can operate. The refinery owners have an obligation to comply with existing
Clean Air Act requirements. The facility is also subject to a Clean Air Act
consent decree. The owners also have ongoing obligations under permits issued
by the U.S. Virgin Islands. 


To read EPA’s decision, visit Refinery on St. Croix.

View how the permit protects public health at EPA’s Prevention of
Significant Deterioration web page.

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