Living and working in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands may be as close to paradise as it gets, but there’s still a risk of exposure to asbestos, and therefore a concern about malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. As is true the world over, many industrial sites in the Caribbean were originally constructed using asbestos and made use of the deadly material in their daily operations. Today many of those contaminated sites have been shut down, but where asbestos is still in place, it still poses a risk – especially when it is disturbed, as happened during hurricanes Irma and Maria last fall.
After the hurricane force winds swept through the islands and destroyed many structures, few people immediately thought of mesothelioma, but the Environmental Protection Agency and the Virgin Island Planning and Natural Resources department was well aware – among other locations in the islands, St. Croix is home to one of these asbestos sites – the former HOVENSA oil refinery. That site, along with an old asbestos dumping site that was connected to it, was damaged by the storms, potentially exposing nearby workers to the dangers of inhaling or ingesting asbestos. As a result, the Vice President of Operations of nearby Limetree Bay Terminals has sent a memo to workers, warning them of the possible risk.
The letter from Nate Warner indicates that at least some of the damaged buildings probably contained asbestos. It said that, “Only testing will confirm that. Insulation is being kept damp while removal/disposal operations are underway. Access to areas where damaged insulation is present has been restricted and proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is required.” In addition to this site, St. Croix is also the site of a former Alcoa plant which has also been the subject of EPA asbestos warnings in the past.
The actions taken by Limetree Bay Terminals in notifying their workers is a far cry from the negligent behavior of companies that have recklessly allowed their employees to be put in harm’s way. If you or someone you love is the victim of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244 to learn more about your rights.