I moved to St. Croix in 1995 to work at Hovensa on a 6 month contract. I never left. I fell in love with the island, its people, its culture, etc. I lost my job with Hovensa when the refinery first started making cut backs in 2011. The cutbacks and ultimate closure in 2012 cost the Territory hundreds of jobs. If the VI Legislature does not approve an operating agreement allowing for the sale of Hovensa, the facility will stop operating as an oil storage facility, and even more Virgin Islanders will suffer my fate.
In addition to the direct jobs lost, many businesses have been adversely affected by the refinery closure and additional businesses will be adversely affected if the sale does not go through. Reminisce Restaurant and Antilles School both advertised that their closure was a direct result of Hovensa’s shut down. Good Hope and Country Day School merged as a result of the closure. Most of us have friends and family who were forced to leave and find employment elsewhere.
According to a recent notice Hovensa will completely shut down in mid-December due to lack of operational funds unless the Legislature ratifies the operating agreement between our Government and the buyer – Atlantic Basin Refining (ABR). Approving the agreement and allowing the sale to move forward will create hundreds of jobs in the Territory (like my old job at the Refinery), stimulate our economy and provide benefits that would be shared by all Virgin Islanders.
ABR would have to pay the government more than $1.6 billion over the life of the agreement, which has a 22-year term with the option for two additional 10-year terms. ABR would also have to pay the government a $40 million security payment upon the agreement’s ratification. Under the agreement, ABR would also be required to create hundreds of local jobs.
By failing to ratify the agreement between ABR and the Government, and thus shutting down the Hovensa terminal operations, the Senate would force the Territory to rely on gasoline barged over from Puerto Rico. The cost of transporting this fuel would drive up our prices and increase, even higher, the cost of living here.
Finally, the new business plan for Hovensa is to process light, sweet oil from the U.S. mainland, instead of heavy Venezuelan crude, so emissions from the plant will be far less than during operations in the past.
If the Legislature does not ratify the operating agreement between ABR and the Government before the end of the year, more Virgin Islanders will lose their jobs. Inaction by the Legislature will cause the USVI to miss an opportunity to create long term, high paying jobs which will greatly help our economy recover. I call on my fellow Virgin Islanders to do their part to save Hovensa by signing the petition to Save Hovensa at www.hovensasale.com and calling 774-0880 to tell our Senators to approve this operating agreement.
I don’t want to see more people lose their jobs. I don’t want to see more businesses suffer.
Save Hovensa! Save St. Croix!
Barry Guilbeau, St. Croix
We are moving into a different time, and oil, whether you realize it or not, is not our future. Below is another bit of information that came out today about cruise lines. If we continue to let money be our driving force instead of common sense, we won’t have an island to live or work on. One big oil spill could really mess us up.
Cruise ships released over one billion gallons of sewage into the ocean in 2014, according to a new report from Friends of the Earth.
The analysis, which worked off of federal data, did show that some of the 16 cruise lines assessed are slowly becoming more environmentally friendly. But according to the press release from environmental group Friends of the Earth (FOE), over 40 percent of the 167 ships in operation still operate using waste treatment technology that’s more than 35 years old. “Such antiquated treatment systems leave harmful levels of fecal matter, bacteria, heavy metals and other contaminants in the water,” FOE noted.
Federal law requires that cruise ships only dump treated wastewater if they are within three nautical miles of shore. But beyond that point, it’s essentially a free-for-all.
FOE also cites data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which shows “an average cruise ship with 3,000 passengers and crew produces about 21,000 gallons of sewage a day — enough to fill 10 backyard swimming pools in a week. That adds up to more than one billion gallons a year for the industry.” FOE also acknowledges this is likely “a conservative estimate,” because newer ships can carry up to 8,000 passengers and crew members, and because their analysis does not cover all ships and fleets worldwide.
“This is an industry worth billions of dollars that could install the most advanced sewage treatment and air pollution reduction technology available,” said Marcie Keever, the oceans and vessels program director at FOE. “We’re encouraged that some cruise lines are taking incremental steps to improve their performance, but the entire industry must stop hiding behind weak regulations and take action to make sure the oceans their ships travel remain as clear as the photos in cruise brochures.”
The centerpiece of FOE’s analysis was their Cruise Ship Report Card, which has come out every year since 2009. Up through 2013, the report card had graded the cruise lines on three metrics: the quality of their sewage treatment technology, how much they reduce their air pollution through the use of cleaner fuels and plugging into onshore power, and how well they comply with water quality standards — especially those established by the State of Alaska to protect its coasts.
But for the 2014 report, all 16 cruise lines apparently refused to respond to FOE’s request for information on their pollution reduction efforts — forcing the group to rely on federal data. This also inspired FOE to add a fourth transparency metric to the report card, for which all 16 cruise lines received an “F.”
Outside of the transparency issue, Disney Cruise Lines is apparently the most environmentally friendly, scoring an A for sewage treatment, a B- for air pollution reduction, and an A for water quality compliance. Carnival, by contrast, scored an A on water quality compliance, but an F on sewage treatment and a D on air pollution.
According to FOE, data from EPA also shows that “each day an average cruise ship is at sea it emits more sulfur dioxide than 13 million cars and more soot than one million cars.” But new fuel standards will kick in next year for both the United States and Canada, which should reduce sulfur emissions from each ship by 97 percent, and cut the emissions of soot by 85 percent.
Do you really believe that this company ABR has the capability to operate this refinery while they don’t even have the first red cent to operate it. That is by their own admission not mine. They have no financing in place or no money in the bank, so why do you think that they will have the money to operate this plant. I am not against the refinery opening but I do have problems with this ABR company.