Story highlights Methyl bromide is suspected to have been used improperly several times in the U.S. Virgin Islands, local officials say Teen brothers exposed to the pesticide while on vacation are both in comas; parents are recovering
Local officials said methyl bromide is suspected to have been used improperly several times in the U.S. Virgin Islands, in different parts of the island; even the governor said his condominium complex was fumigated with it in 2013, without his knowledge.
Investigators are still trying to piece together exactly what happened at the Sirenusa resort, where a Delaware family’s vacation in paradise turned into a nightmare. Theresa Devine and Steve Esmond and their two children fell gravely ill and suffered seizures; two brothers, ages 14 and 16, remain in comas.
But this was likely not an isolated incident. Local authorities here tell CNN there is evidence methyl bromide was used at least twice at the gated Sirenusa resort on St. John by the pest control company Terminix. They also say Terminix used the pesticide across the islands on different occasions.
Dawn Henry, the commissioner designee of the local Department of Planning and Natural Resources, or DPNR, said that while investigating what happened, the agency found methyl bromide was likely also used last fall at the same Sirenusa resort, as well as in a vacation villa in St. Croix and in two nontourist locations.
Methyl bromide is banned from indoor use, and is only approved as an agricultural pesticide. Other pest control companies on the Virgin Islands were found in possession of methyl bromide and officials said they are checking records to see whether it was used improperly. Ken Mapp, the governor of the Virgin Islands, said it was.
“What these companies did or appear to have been doing is clearly a violation of the law and they’ll be held accountable for it,” Mapp said. He said he learned his own complex was fumigated with methyl bromide in 2013, but said there have been no additional reports of people falling ill.
Authorities are trying to track down anyone who has stayed at the affected villas or who might have been exposed.
Family slowly recovering from illness after Virgin Islands trip
Terminix issued a statement saying it is “committed to performing all work … in a manner that is safe for our customers, employees, the public and the environment” and is “looking into this matter internally, and cooperating with authorities.”
Read the original:
Vacationers exposed to deadly pesticide?