St. Croix Alumina &
Bauxite waste area
Alumina facility after cleanup
In 2005, the firm initiated litigation on behalf of the Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands to recover past and future response costs, oversight costs, and damages—including natural resource damages—against the owners and operators of major oil and alumina refineries located on the south shore of St. Croix. At the time the litigation was brought, releases of contaminants and wastes from the refineries had polluted the natural resources of St. Croix for decades. At the alumina facility, operators had disposed of bauxite tailings, a caustic waste product of alumina processing, into poorly maintained waste areas that developed into massive piles of “red mud.” In addition to the red mud, other contaminants from the facilities, such as methyl tertiary-butyl ether (“MTBE”), petroleum hydrocarbons, lead, arsenic, and mercury, had polluted the largest productive aquifer in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Over the course of ten years, the firm assisted the Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands in pursuing its claims for damages against the owners and operators of these facilities. The firm ultimately obtained settlements valued at more than $126 million in the form of monetary damages and major restoration projects, including the closure, stabilization, drainage, vegetation, and long-term monitoring of bauxite residue waste disposal areas. These settlements comprised the largest ever recoveries in environmental litigation brought in the U.S. Virgin Islands.