The “noxious” smell of the Limetree Bay refinery in St Croix closes schools and triggers a health notice.
A “noxious” gaseous odor from the recently reopened St Croix refinery that caused schools to close was caused by excessive emissions of hydrogen sulfide, officials from the US Virgin Islands said on Friday.
The Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) advises people with respiratory illnesses such as allergies, lung disease and asthma to consider taking protective measures such as staying indoors or moving to less affected areas.
The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration describes hydrogen sulfide “as a colorless gas known for its pungent rotten egg odor at low concentrations. It is extremely flammable and highly toxic. “
The odor was caused by a “malfunction” overnight and into the wee hours of the morning, which has been corrected, according to a Limetree Bay spokesperson.
“The executive management of Limetree Bay sincerely apologizes for the impact on the public,” the spokesperson said, adding that the company would continue to monitor the effects on the outside community.
The DPNR told Reuters it was investigating to what extent Limetree exceeded permitted levels of hydrogen sulfide.
Local high schools and a vocational and technical training center closed the in-person learning after students and staff felt nauseous due to a “noxious odor” affecting air quality on campuses on the 22nd. April, according to a notice from the US Virgin Islands Department of Education.
A coronavirus vaccination center in the community of St Croix was also closed on Friday due to the smell, a representative told Reuters.
The smell was observed in the west of the island in Frederiksted for several days and prompted complaints from citizens, according to the DPNR.
The refinery recently resumed fuel production after a complete plant shutdown earlier this month due to an undisclosed operational issue.