Local Businesses Recommend Limetree to EPA

Altoglacio Straun, at 19 years old the youngest employee at Limetree, speaks at the EPA hearing. (Source photo by Susan Ellis)
Altoglacio Straun, at 19 years old is the youngest employee at Limetree, speaks at the EPA hearing. (Source photo by Susan Ellis)

Ten people recorded positive comments in favor of Limetree Bay Terminal and Refinery’s application Friday for a Clean Air Act Plantwide Applicability Limit permit and one person spoke of her concerns in giving the corporation such control.

According to the EPA, if approved the PAL will “allow Limetree the flexibility to make changes within its facility while limiting emissions increases to levels that do not trigger Prevention of Significant Deterioration permit requirements.”

Limetree applied for a permit to cover seven pollutants: volatile organic compounds or VOCs, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particulate matter (PM2.5, PM10, PM) and sulfur dioxide. If the permit is granted, Limetree must show that the sum of monthly emissions from all emissions units to be less than the PAL for the previous 12 consecutive months. If approved, the PAL permit will be valid for 10 years.

Those who spoke in favor of the permit commented that the refinery in the past under Hess Oil and Hovensa, was good for their businesses, provided employment for islanders and the companies were good corporate citizens.

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Stuart Lewis, executive manager of Pinnacle Services LLC, said he had to eliminate 400 jobs after the 2012 closing of Hovensa. Limetree will bring “stability to the economy” and additional jobs to his company and the island, Lewis said.

Keith O’Neale, of O’Neal’s Transport, who provides U.S. Customs and Border Protection clearing and delivery services, said Limetree helped the island after Hurricane Maria with medical supplies, food, fuel and internet service.

Centerline Car Rental’s Manuel Guttierez said he lost more than half his revenue after 2012 and looks forward to forming a long-term relationship with Limetree. He said he visited the refinery recently and was impressed to see “thousands of people working in an orderly fashion.”

Five employees from various departments at Limetree also spoke in support of the PAL permit, including the refinery manger and a marine pilot, Jason Gleason, who pointed out that there was no loss of containment or injuries during the 2017 hurricane.

Altoglacio Straun, 19, is the youngest employee at the facility. He said there are 35 new employees hired from his alma mater, St. Croix Educational Complex. He pointed out workers can remain on St. Croix and go to school at the same time.

Other speakers included previous refinery employees and longtime residents. They pointed out that Limetree employees breathe the same air as other residents and the island lost many good people when it closed in 2012. Steven “Kyle” Lee said he lived on St. Croix when Martin Marietta operated the alumina plant.

“They weren’t so flexible [as the refinery operators] and they closed,” he said.

Tina Beazer, said she appreciates the benefits of having the refinery on the island, but is concerned it would be easy to overlook things if everything is under their control.

“I’m concerned their long-term presence does not erode the quality of life for Virgin Islanders,” she said.

Jim Casey, of the EPA’s Region 2, told the audience of several dozen that anyone could make comments and speak for up to five minutes.

Additionally, written comments can be submitted until Nov. 25. The permit can be seen at the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources office in Frederiksted or on the EPA website.

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