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Burns Charest Clients Obtain Clean Drinking Water After Refinery Pollution Events

Burns Charest Clients Obtain Clean Drinking Water After Refinery Pollution Events

Burns Charest, along with co-counsel, represents thousands of residents on the island of St. Croix in lawsuits against Limetree Bay Refining and Limetree Bay Terminals. The case stems from pollution caused by several failed start-up attempts by the refinery located on the south coast of St. Croix. When the refinery had problems starting, it sent oil and chemicals to the elevated flares, which became overloaded in an event called a “flare rain out.”

These flare rain-out events (one shown in the video here) caused oil and other pollutants to spew into the air and rain down over Crucian neighborhoods miles to the west of the refinery. Many neighborhoods are home to economically disadvantaged residents who lack the funds to clean the contamination. And most of the homes rely on rain-catching cisterns for basic daily water needs, such as drinking, bathing, and washing. The damage done to these cisterns and the water-catchment systems, along with the impact on the residents’ day-to-day life, present the central focus of the claims.

While Limetree Bay Refining filed bankruptcy, the case has proceeded against Limetree Bay Terminals in federal court in the U.S. Virgin Islands. And in its case, which has been consolidated with several others, Burns Charest led the charge to obtain interim relief for its affected clients.

As part of that process, Burns Charest, joined by several other firms, sought a mandatory, preliminary injunction to require Limetree Bay Terminals to help the affected clients during the pendency of the litigation.

Following a four-day evidentiary hearing, in which co-founder Daniel Charest participated, the federal court issued a preliminary injunction requiring Limetree Terminals to establish a water program for underprivileged residents affected by the refinery’s pollution. The contours of the water program will be established through subsequent process. But the pollution victims can look forward to returning to a more normal lifestyle while the case advances.

Co-founder Daniel Charest said, “We are very proud to protect disadvantaged people who suffer at the hands of an uncaring industrial actor. And we want to get these homes and, more importantly, the lives of the residents back to normal in beautiful St. Croix.”

The case is Shirley, et al., v. Limetree Bay Ventures, LLC, et al., Case No. 1:21-cv-00259 in the District Court of the Virgin Islands. Details about the case and ruling are discussed in this article.