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Senator Capehart Calls On Environmental Taskforce To Act With A Sense Of Urgency

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My office has received numerous complaints about a strong chemical odor emanating from the area of the Limetree Oil Refinery. Individuals working at the Container Port have been complaining about a strong odor which at times smells like diesel and other times like “chemicals.” This odor has been affecting the employees for more than a week and is particularly strong today and yesterday. Employees continue to complain about respiratory challenges and headaches.

I contacted the Department of Planning and Natural Resources of Division Environmental Protection yesterday and spoke to the Assistant Director Mr. George Patrick. I was advised that they too received complaints from the community and are aware; however, no determination has been made as to the source or the cause of the odor.

Further, I would like to remind the public of the taskforce recently assembled by the US Department of Justice to investigate environmental crimes in the jurisdictions of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Though there are measures in place, I would like to experience a sense of urgency to resolve these issues on behalf of the People of St. Croix.

Therefore, I hereby call upon all pertinent Federal and Local regulatory entities, particularly the Departments of Health, Planning and Natural Resources, Labor and the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to immediately ascertain the source and cause of this emission and take the necessary action. I urge all the stakeholders in this matter to work with a sense of urgency to ensure the health and safety needs of the People of the Virgin Islands and its neighbors are being met.

I will continue to follow up with these entities to ascertain the results of their investigation.