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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, August 17, 2022
HomeNewsLocal newsGovernment Warns About Potential Refinery-Emission Health Risk

Government Warns About Potential Refinery-Emission Health Risk

Limetree Bay Refining LLC on St. Croix (File photo)

Commissioner Jean-Pierre L. Oriol of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources advised St. Croix residents Saturday that the department has confirmed elevated concentrations of hydrogen sulfide were released from the Limetree Bay refinery Friday.

This foul, gaseous smell, which can smell similar to rotten eggs, has permeated throughout the Frederiksted area, the V.I. government said in a news release.

Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion added, “any potential threat to the health of the public is always a concern of mine. As DPNR continues to monitor environmental effects, I encourage you to report symptoms like headaches, nausea, and especially those of a respiratory nature to your healthcare provider.”

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, hydrogen sulfide can have mild to severe health impacts. Studies in humans suggest that the respiratory tract and nervous system are the most sensitive targets of hydrogen sulfide toxicity.

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Exposure to low concentrations of hydrogen sulfide may irritate the eyes, nose, or throat. It also may cause difficulty in breathing for some asthmatics. Respiratory distress or arrest has been observed in people exposed to extremely high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide.

Exposure to low concentrations of hydrogen sulfide may cause headaches, poor memory, tiredness, and balance problems. Brief exposures to high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide can cause loss of consciousness. In most cases, the person regains consciousness without any other effects. However, some individuals may have permanent or long-term effects, such as headaches, poor attention span, poor memory, and poor motor function.

Individuals with respiratory ailments such as allergies, lung disease, or asthma should consider taking protective actions such as staying indoors or temporarily relocating to areas less affected.

The Department of Planning and Natural Resources and the Department of Health will monitor this situation and advise the community accordingly, the government news release said. Anyone with questions or concerns can call DPNR at 340-773-1082 ext. 2221, or the Environmental Health division at 340-718-1311 ext. 3709.

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