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DPNR Assesses Hovensa Odor at CHS

The Department of Planning and Natural Resources is continuing to respond to the odor complaints that caused problems – including early closures – at St. Croix Central High School, Commissioner Alicia Barnes said in a news release issued Wednesday.

After the school day was ended early at CHS on Feb. 28, DPNR’s Air Quality Management Program staff conducted an onsite investigation and discovered that the foul odor was related to tank cleaning operation at Hovensa. DPNR discovered that vapors were released during the cleaning of a heavy crude tank.

The department ordered Hovensa to cease and desist all tank-cleaning operations and to submit an odor contingency plan to the department for approval.

On Friday, subsequent to the cease and desist of tank-cleaning operations, the department received additional complaints from Central High School, the DPNR release said. Once again the AQM staff responded. On that instance, the staff did not detect any odor.

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Once more on Monday, odors were reported by the high school and again AQM staff visited the campus. Staff detected a gaseous smell near the entrance to the administrative building.

Consequently, DPNR – along with the Virgin Islands National Guard 23rd Civil Support Team and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s on-scene coordinator, Geoff Garrison – conducted air monitoring at the school on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The team used "Area-Rae" and "Multi-Rae" instruments for real-time monitoring of hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds. This monitoring was conducted at various locations on and around the school grounds. The pollutants of interest were detected below levels of concern.

In addition, the Air Pollution Control program canvassed the industrial complex for an indication of an odor but no distinct odors were discovered.

As a result of the Feb. 28 tank-cleaning incident, an additional onsite investigation was conducted Tuesday at Hovensa. The investigation confirmed that Hovensa had indeed ceased all tank-cleaning operations.

The program is conducting further investigations into the operations of other units at the facility.

“DPNR will continue to monitor the situation to ensure there is no risk to the health and safety of the students and staff of the school and the surrounding communities," Barnes said.

"I must reiterate that, at this point, air monitoring for the past two days have detected no pollutants that will result in the negative impact to human health."

Further information on air quality can be obtained by contacting the Division of Environmental Protection at 1-340-773-1082 on St. Croix or 1-340-774-3320 on St. Thomas.

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The Department of Planning and Natural Resources is continuing to respond to the odor complaints that caused problems – including early closures – at St. Croix Central High School, Commissioner Alicia Barnes said in a news release issued Wednesday.

After the school day was ended early at CHS on Feb. 28, DPNR’s Air Quality Management Program staff conducted an onsite investigation and discovered that the foul odor was related to tank cleaning operation at Hovensa. DPNR discovered that vapors were released during the cleaning of a heavy crude tank.

The department ordered Hovensa to cease and desist all tank-cleaning operations and to submit an odor contingency plan to the department for approval.

On Friday, subsequent to the cease and desist of tank-cleaning operations, the department received additional complaints from Central High School, the DPNR release said. Once again the AQM staff responded. On that instance, the staff did not detect any odor.

Once more on Monday, odors were reported by the high school and again AQM staff visited the campus. Staff detected a gaseous smell near the entrance to the administrative building.

Consequently, DPNR – along with the Virgin Islands National Guard 23rd Civil Support Team and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s on-scene coordinator, Geoff Garrison – conducted air monitoring at the school on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The team used "Area-Rae" and "Multi-Rae" instruments for real-time monitoring of hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds. This monitoring was conducted at various locations on and around the school grounds. The pollutants of interest were detected below levels of concern.

In addition, the Air Pollution Control program canvassed the industrial complex for an indication of an odor but no distinct odors were discovered.

As a result of the Feb. 28 tank-cleaning incident, an additional onsite investigation was conducted Tuesday at Hovensa. The investigation confirmed that Hovensa had indeed ceased all tank-cleaning operations.

The program is conducting further investigations into the operations of other units at the facility.

“DPNR will continue to monitor the situation to ensure there is no risk to the health and safety of the students and staff of the school and the surrounding communities," Barnes said.

"I must reiterate that, at this point, air monitoring for the past two days have detected no pollutants that will result in the negative impact to human health."

Further information on air quality can be obtained by contacting the Division of Environmental Protection at 1-340-773-1082 on St. Croix or 1-340-774-3320 on St. Thomas.