St. Croix refinery cannot restart without new permit, air pollution tech -EPA


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U.S. regulators will require a new comprehensive Clean Air Act permit for the oil refinery on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday.

The idled refinery, formerly the largest in the Western Hemisphere, was expected to boost overall supply in the Caribbean, a key transit point for petroleum shipments, but was shut after just a few months of operation.

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Formerly called Limetree Bay, it was shut down by the EPA in May 2021 after a series of chemical releases into the environment sickened neighboring residents.

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The refinery was sold for $62 million in December 2021 to West Indies Petroleum and Port Hamilton Refining and Transportation, following the bankruptcy of its former private equity owners.

The plant owners intend to restart the facility, but have let it fall into disrepair, the EPA said last month. The agency cited equipment corrosion that presents risk of fire, explosion or other “catastrophic” releases of hazardous substances.

An August 2022 fire within the petroleum coke conveyor loading system burned for two weeks, prompting the inspection.

The new Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit would require detailed air-quality analyzes and the use of the best available air pollution control technology, the EPA said Thursday.

A PSD permit limits emissions to levels that would result from the best available air pollution control technology, which the EPA said 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 at the facility. (Reporting by Laura Sanicola in New York Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Matthew Lewis)


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