The V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources Coastal Zone Management on Thursday consolidated several dozen permits into one, with conditions, for Limetree Bay Terminal and Limetree Refinery.
The Limetree application requested a single master permit covering the existing refinery, tanks, pipes, electrical generation, administration buildings and docking facilities. They also applied for the permit to cover the modifications necessary for the restart of the refinery, including limited demolition, construction of a limited number of foundations and upgrading and refurbishment of existing equipment at the refinery and marine terminal.
“What we are doing is consolidating permits for the facility,” said Amy Dempsey of Bio Impact. She added that the two Limetree companies currently hold 47 to 50 permits and the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources has encouraged consolidation in such cases.
Dempsey outlined conditions approved along with the permit CZX-10-19 (L&W) – refinery procedures.
– Tier one, or de minimus changes, must be listed in a letter to Planning and Natural Resources along with a technical description of the project 15 days before the project is due to begin. Examples include digging, erosion control, sidewalks, roads or general maintenance.
– Tier two would consist of a larger project that causes no change in the footprint, such as replacing a big generator or working under the water line. Tier two projects cost more money but carry no significant environmental impact. CZM requires a letter and a technical description of the project 30 days before it is due to begin.
– Third tier projects, such as replacing a unit at the refinery, changing a dock or utility, something outside the original footprint – requires Limetree to go through the standard permitting application process.
Board members had several questions and comments about the proposed changes. Chairwoman Masserae Webster asked about the company’s’ oversight of construction permits. Joyce Wakefield of Limetree said project managers would learn about permits in meetings and new managers would be educated when they arrive.
Coastal Zone director Marlon Hibbert asked about the company’s’ disaster planning and mitigating structures for storms when they are built. Limetree’s Jason Gleason said the facilities and the way they were built in the Bahamas are very different than the St. Croix facility. Basically, the Bahamas refinery, which collapsed during Hurricane Dorian, was locked up and left with only a few people inside for oversight.
Gleason said there were no losses during the Virgin Islands two Category 5 hurricanes in 2017. Each Limetree company has an incident command team and they worked with the territory’s hazard mitigation agencies during and after the storms. Should an oil spill happen at anytime, Gleason said they have the two largest response organizations on call.
During Thursday’s hearing, a permit was also granted to allow the V.I. Port Authority to increase dredge volume from 11,000 cubic yards to 12,160 cubic yards at the Molasses Pier to accommodate larger ships.
USVI Opportunity Fund, LLC also received a permit to construct and operate a new dock in the same location as one destroyed by Hurricane Maria at the east end of the Christiansted boardwalk.
Board members attending the meeting were Webster, Charles Peters and Paul Simons. All three voted in favor of each permit.