Reports reveal new Mossmorran safety concerns

Documents relating to Mossmorran were made public following a Freedom Of Information request. (Pic Jane Barlow).
Documents relating to Mossmorran were made public following a Freedom Of Information request. (Pic Jane Barlow).

Operators at Fife’s Mossmorran and Braefoot Bay petrochemical plants have been accused failing to maintain safety standards following the release of Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors reports.

Fife Green MSP Mark Ruskell claims the documents dating back three years, obtained through a Freedom Of Information request, highlight ExxonMobil and Shell having operated a “corner cutting culture” in relation to maintenance and failed to comply with a number of safety recommendations.

HSE reports, expressed “serious concerns” over Shell’s failure to fix a potentially faulty leak, while ExxonMobil was criticised for failing to renew fire protection measures in 2015 and failing to comply in October 2017 with 11 0f the 12 safety recommendations put to them.

“These reports reveal a corporate culture where health and safety compliance sits at a bare minimum and where actions demanded by the regulator are allowed to drift from year to year,” Mr Ruskell told the Press.

“The operators have a responsibility to stop the corner cutting and get the plants operating at a higher standard,”

The documents, detail a series of incidents and failings highlighted by HSE inspectors in 2015 and 2016, however the latest reports have not yet been withheld as they form part of the current ongoing investigations being conducted by both the HSE and Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) following several major incidents of unplanned flaring at the plant in the last 12 months.

Lesley Laird, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, said she is now seeking immediate reassurances that the plant – as it stands now – is compliant with the HSE and SEPA safety standards.

She added: “While it’s important to understand these reports date back to previous years and some issues have already been resolved, the content does raise valid concerns about the robustness of safety practices, risk management and maintenance of the plant.

“We don’t have access to data from recent inspections, since those reports form part of a live investigation into flaring episodes at Mossmorran, nor do we have a proper understanding of what these reports mean to the here and now.

Despite the latest concerns, both companies say they have addressed the necessary concerns and comply fully with current stringent operating regulations.

A spokesman for ExxonMobil said: “The nature of the documents released under a Freedom of Information request relate to regular dialogue between the HSE and Fife Ethylene Plant (FEP) as part of the ongoing inspection and review process.

“The depth and technical detail of the review process and dialogue between the HSE and FEP is recorded rigorously, and we welcome this.

“FEP is committed to the highest standards of health and safety and our operations include regular internal inspections to ensure we maintain our excellent record – this is reflected in the fact that in the past 22 years there have been no serious injuries at all on site.”