Superior Court on St. Croix closed until Thursday because of odor investigation

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ST. CROIX - V.I. Superior Court on St. Croix closed at 1 p.m. Monday for emergency work that is being performed on the sewage system, and will not reopen until 8 a.m. Thursday.

"There was an odor that was coming into the court, and in consultation with Waste Management, the Department of Health and the EPA, we determined that we didn't want that odor to get into our air-conditioning system and be spread throughout the court," V.I. Superior Court Presiding Judge Michael Dunston said. The air-conditioning in the building has been turned off, he said.

The Superior Court building is not far from St. Croix Central High School, which has had problems with intermittent noxious odors during the last month that sickened people at the school, and prompted about 35 people, mostly students, to go to Luis Hospital for treatment a week ago. The school is now closed while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and local agencies investigate the source of the odor.

Dunston said he had not received any reports of anyone complaining of feeling ill at the court, but he wanted to be cautious.

"Waste Management is going to be checking our system internally. In order to do that, we wanted to shut down," he said.

Dunston said the odor at the St. Croix Superior Court was described to him as a sewage smell.

Government House late Monday afternoon issued a statement saying that a sewer system near the Central High School campus is the likely cause of the intermittent odor at the school. It was not clear whether the issue with the smell at Superior Court might be related.

Superior Court wanted to cooperate with the work that EPA and the local agencies are doing "and at the same time make sure the public and our employees were not exposed to any noxious odors or anything we didn't know what it was," Dunston said.

The presiding judge noted that U.S. District Court has been cooperative in allowing matters that could not be postponed to be heard there.

A statement Superior Court issued Monday said that while the court is closed, advice of rights and arraignments will be heard at 9 a.m. at the Almeric Christian Federal Building in Golden Rock.

Other matters will be handled as follows:

- Domestic violence cases scheduled for Wednesday have been rescheduled to 11 a.m. on Friday.

- Small claims matters scheduled for Tuesday have been rescheduled to 9:30 a.m. on April 8.

- Marriages scheduled for Wednesday are rescheduled to 8 a.m. on Thursday.

- Juror orientation scheduled for Tuesday has been rescheduled to Friday at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

- Juror selection scheduled for Tuesday before Judge Douglas Brady has been continued until further notice.

- Filings will be accepted via a secured lock box on the first floor of the R.H. Amphlett Leader Justice Complex from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Wednesday.

Superior Court on St. Croix is scheduled to reopen at 8 a.m. Thursday.

The court on St. Thomas is open as usual.

- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email

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