Hovensa has finished its cleanup of properties in estates Clifton Hill and Fredensborg that were affected by the refinery’s Dec. 9 hydrocarbon release on St. Croix and will soon close drinking water distribution sites, according to the refinery.
The Dec. 9 release was the third such hydrocarbon spray in 2010. As with previous releases, Hovensa began testing household water cisterns, cleaning roofs, issuing vouchers for car washes and distributing potable water shortly after the mishaps.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a statement saying no refinery hydrocarbons were detected in any of the cisterns sampled under EPA oversight; a few days later the V.I. Health Department lifted a "do not drink" order for those affected neighborhoods.
In a statement released Wednesday, Hovensa announced it will close water distribution centers Feb. 13 in Estate Clifton Hill at the St. Croix Animal Shelter and at the Original Pentecostal Church.
According to the EPA, Hovensa collected samples from 45 cisterns in the areas of Clifton Hill and Fredensborg to determine if the release from the facility had impacted them. The Hovensa sampling was monitored by the EPA in partnership with the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources to ensure that proper sample collection procedures were used, according to the EPA.
The Hovensa samples were analyzed by a Louisiana State University laboratory that analyzes samples for the U.S. Coast Guard.
The EPA performed its own analysis of 24 of the samples collected by Hovensa to confirm the accuracy of the LSU sample results. The EPA analysis was conducted at its laboratory in New Jersey.
An information packet from EPA, Health and Hovensa that explains the sampling protocol and the results of the water samples is being hand-delivered to residents of Estates Clifton Hill and Fredensborg, according to Hovensa.
Residents can contact Hovensa’s call center at 692-3999 with questions or concerns.
During the cleanup, Hovensa’s new acting Chief Executive Officer John George said any release of petroleum “is unacceptable to the officers of Hovensa, and we are conducting a thorough review of the recent incidents in order to prevent recurrences."
During the response, more than 25,000 gallons of drinking water were distributed to area residents, according to Hovensa. Refinery employees and contractors inspected 318 roofs in Estates Clifton Hill and Fredensborg and cleaned or addressed 231 that were found to be affected. More than 219 car wash vouchers were distributed to individuals in the area, and a total of 143 vehicles were cleaned, according to the refinery.
While not a direct result of last year’s three mishaps, the refinery agreed late last month to pay $5.3 million in federal and local fines and spend $710 million for upgrades related to pollution control in a court case brought by the EPA.
Hovensa did not concede any wrongdoing or violations in the negotiated settlement.
This story is just beyond ironic.