EPA Invites Public to Meeting on St. Croix Alumina Cleanup Plan
Release Date: 01/11/2001
|(#01004) New York, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) invites interested members of the public to attend a meeting on January 17, 2001 to discuss the proposed plan for cleaning up an underground plume of oil at the St. Croix Alumina facility located at 1 Estate Anguilla, in Kingshill, St. Croix. The meeting will be held at 7PM at the Virgin Islands Department of Education Curriculum Center, Queen Mary Highway, in Kingshill, St. Croix. EPA representatives will be on-hand to explain the details of the proposed cleanup plan, called an "Administrative Order on Consent," which was negotiated between the agency and several past and present corporate owners of both the St. Croix Alumina facility and the adjacent HOVENSA oil refinery.
From 1978 to 1991, it is believed that an estimated 900,000 to over 2 million gallons of petroleum were released from storage tanks and underground piping at the facilities of both St. Croix Alumina and HOVENSA, which borders the aluminum company to the east. The oil seeped into the soil at both facilities and eventually reached the groundwater. Much of the oil is now floating on top of the groundwater, although some of it has dissolved into the water itself. The groundwater in this area flows in the general direction of the Caribbean Sea, which forms the southern border of St. Croix Alumina. EPA is concerned that the oil plume could reach the Caribbean if it is not cleaned up.
Over the 13-year period during which the release of oil occurred, several entities owned and/or operated the current St. Croix Alumina and HOVENSA facilities. Seven companies will now share the responsibility for remediating the St. Croix Alumina oil plume. They include the present and former operators of the aluminum plant: St. Croix Alumina, L.L.C.; ALCOA World Alumina, L.L.C.; Lockheed Martin Corporation; Virgin Islands Alumina Company; and Century Aluminum Company, Inc., and the past and present owners/operators of the oil refinery, Hess Oil Virgin Islands Corporation (HOVIC) and HOVENSA, L.L.C., respectively. The cleanup of a large oil plume underlying HOVENSA has been ongoing since 1987 under a permit from EPA, and is separate from the proposed order to clean up the St. Croix Alumina plume. To date, approximately 34 million gallons of oil has been recovered as part of the HOVENSA cleanup.
The proposed order would require the seven companies to finalize plans to clean up the oil plume, and develop plans to determine the extent of the dissolved petroleum and the risks it may pose. EPA will review these plans and if it approves them, work will begin. The seven companies would pay the expense of the cleanup, which would be conducted under EPA oversight. It is estimated that the cleanup will take four to five years to complete.
At the meeting on January 17, 2001, the public will have the opportunity to review the proposed order and make comments about the plan to EPA. As stated in two EPA public notices that appeared in Virgin Islands newspapers on December 18 and 19, 2000, the public may read the proposed order before the meeting by visiting EPA’s office in the Federal Building, 5500 Veterans Drive, Room 142, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, or the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Division of Environmental Protection, 1118 Water Gut Homes, Christiansted, St. Croix. The public may also submit written comments on the proposed order by mail (must be postmarked by January 31, 2001) or by fax to:
Mr. Raymond Basso
Once EPA has evaluated all of the comments received, it will make a final decision about whether to sign and finalize the proposed clean-up order.