June 10, 2005 St. Croix Renaissance Group responded yesterday to a lawsuit filed in the United States District Court of the Virgin Islands by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources in early May.
The lawsuit came to public notice after a television station broadcast news of it recently and then the DPNR released a press release two days ago. (See "DPNR Claims Refinery Polluted Groundwater").
St. Croix Renaissance Group states in its press release that it is an innocent owner, and was joined in the litigation solely because it currently owns the property formerly known as the St.Croix Alumina Refinery site.
Myron Allick, vice president of operations, is quoted in the release as saying, "None of the allegations in the complaint allege misdoing by St. Croix Renaissance Group. In fact, all of the alleged acts would have occurred prior to the time St. Croix Renaissance Group purchased its property. St. Croix Renaissance Group LLLP has always actively supported the environment, and is proud of its accomplishments in this regard. Consistent with the foregoing, our counsel will vigorously defend this matter in court"
Named as defendants, besides the Renaissance Group, are Century Alumina Company, Virgin Islands Alumina Company, St. Croix Alumina, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Alcoa World Alumina, Hovensa, and Hess Oil Virgin Islands Corporation.
Alex Moorhead, Hovensa vice president, has also responded to the lawsuit, calling it "unwarranted and inappropriate."
DPNR states in its suit that the defendants released unpermitted pollutants in the area around the oil refinery.
Dean Plaskett, commissioner DPNR, said in the release, "The territory is sending a clear message that polluters will be held accountable for damages to our territory's water resources and for harming our environment. The territory will ensure that these polluters no longer take our environment for granted and compensate the territory for damages to our natural resources."
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