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US Department of Labor cites refinery for failing to protect workers from hazardous chemicals

03 December 2021

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited a refinery in the US Virgin Islands for failing to protect workers from hazardous chemicals following flaring incidents. Limetree Bay Refining's refinery in Christiansted on the island of St. Croix faces $259,000 (£195,000) in proposed penalties for 20 violations.

Christiansted Refinery - Image: Limetree Bay Refining
Christiansted Refinery - Image: Limetree Bay Refining

Oil and vapour releases into the air and fiery flares at the Christiansted refinery in February and May led to an investigation that found the operator failed to meet federal workplace chemical safety standards and endangered workers, OSHA said in a statement.

OSHA determined that Limetree Bay Refining did not:

- Compile all necessary information on process equipment and technology, including relief system design, safe operating limits and consequences of deviation from those limits

- Evaluate and implement controls to manage process hazards adequately

- Complete a pre-startup safety review

- Prevent process equipment from operating in a deficient condition

- Inspect process equipment adequately before returning it to service and introducing hazardous chemicals to the process

- Develop and implement operating procedures to address conditions that deviate from normal operations

“There are inherent hazards facing workers in facilities that process large quantities of flammable and toxic chemicals at high temperatures and pressures. Complying with OSHA’s Process Safety Management standard reduces those risks and protects workers,” said OSHA Area Office Director Alfredo Nogueras in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. “The number and increasing severity of the release incidents at the Christiansted refinery shows us that Limetree Bay Refining LLC was putting workers at risk by permitting serious deficiencies to exist with its process equipment and inadequate process safety management programs.”

Limetree Bay Refining was part of the Limetree Bay Energy complex in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. In June, the company announced that it would be suspending its plans to restart the Christiansted refinery due to extreme financial difficulties, resulting in 271 employees being laid off as of September.

Employers have 15 business days from receipt of citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


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