Anger flares as public voice lack of trust over Mossmorran

The meeting saw strong views exchanged. Picture: George McLuskie
The meeting saw strong views exchanged. Picture: George McLuskie

Residents living close to Fife’s troubled Mossmorran petro-chemical plant have sent a clear message to its operators, ExxonMobil and Shell UK, that they have lost all trust in how they run the plant.

The message came at a packed public meeting on Friday evening at Lochgelly Town Hall where around 150 disgruntled residents, community leaders and local politicians voiced their anger following the latest in a series of unplanned flaring incidents that have occurred over the last two years.

Picture: George McLuskie

Picture: George McLuskie

While the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and Teresa Waddington, Shell UK’s plant manager attended the meeting organised by Mossmorran Action Group (MAG), the event was boycotted by ExxonMobil whose Fife Ethylene Plant manager Jacob McAlister said he believed the meeting would not “provide an opportunity for fair, constructive and informed discussion.”

The no-show was branded an insult to the communities which host the plant and who have had to endure the adverse affects that the emergency flaring brings, by James Glenn, MAG chairman.

“ExxonMobil’s decision to not face the public shows its complete contempt for these communities,” Mr Glenn added.

Much of the anger was directed at SEPA representative Ian Buchan, with claims that the regulatory body had acted too slow to concerns and to flaring events were accused of being largely ineffectual in its approach to enforcement.

Picture: George McLuskie

Picture: George McLuskie

He said:” We hear what you are saying and we will take that forward.

“SEPA received over 900 complaints regarding the latest flaring, more than we’ve ever received before for a single incident.

He also confirmed that SEPA would serve further permit variations on both operators to ensure they implemented a programme of monitoring to assess the full impact of the flaring.

However, he was shouted down by many angry at SEPA’s perceived lack of action to the monitoring of the effects of light, noise and vibration on the public, which, many said had been promised two years ago but had yet to materialise.

Picture: George McLuskie

Picture: George McLuskie

Alex Rowley, Labour MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, called for a full independent monitoring programme to introduced at at the communities affected as well as full transparency of SEPA’s enforcement.

Questions were also asked of NHSFife to conduct a study into the impact the flaring has had on people’s mental health

Calls were also made to Fife Council to confirm the current status and long-term legality of its lease and planning consent regarding the Mossmorran plant.