Pressure Relief Valve Bursts at Western Hemisphere’s Second Largest Oil Refinery in St. Croix AP / CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands Thursday April 6, 2006— A pressure relief valve burst at theWestern Hemisphere‘s second largest oil refinery on Thursday, spraying oil over nearby cars, a company official said. No one was injured. The valve, part of the vacuum distillation unit at the Hovensa complex in the island of St. Croix, opened at 7:30 a.m. (1130 GMT), releasing an unknown amount of oil, said Alex Moorhead, executive vice president of Hovensa, LLC. Production was not affected.
The valve was only meant to open to relieve excess pressure that could damage the refinery’s machinery, Moorhead said. “Why it opened at this point in time is subject to investigation,” he said. Preliminary tests show the oil spray was limited to the Hovensa complex, said Aaron Hutchins, a spokesman for the U.S. Caribbean territory’s Department of Planning and Natural Resources. “They have a big cleanup job. It was kind of a mess,” he said. Hovensa, a joint venture of New York-based Amerada Hess Corp. and Venezuela’s state-oil company, processes about 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day.