Odor complaints at St. Croix Central High School caused the Department of Education to dismiss classes at 12:15 Friday afternoon. According to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Hovensa was the source.
On several occasions prior to the cessation of refinery operations in 2012, CHS had to close or dismiss classes early due to fumes from Hovensa, but this is the first serious event since the refinery’s partial closure.
Many students at the high school experienced watery eyes, nausea and vomiting, due to a foul odor, according to DPNR.
Students were contained in the gym while Occupational Safety and Health Administration crews arrived on the scene to investigate, according to a statement from the Education Department.
"Any students on campus that were affected by some of the chemicals becoming airborne were treated by the school’s nurse and encouraged to go the Juan F. Luis Hospital for further treatment if necessary," Education Department Public Information Officer Ananta Pancham said in a statement. School is expected to resume normally Monday, she said.
According to DPNR, the department discovered that during the cleaning of a heavy crude tank, vapors were released. DPNR has ordered Hovensa to cease and desist all current tank-cleaning operations, submit an odor contingency plan and notify the public of this incident.