Environment agency vows to monitor re-start at Mossmorran

Scotland’s environment watchdog has said it will continue to monitor Mossmorran as the plant is set to come back into operation after a five-month decommission.

Fife Ethelyne Plant was set to start elevated flaring on Friday as part of its return to normal working, with a pledge to keep local communities updated across the weekend.

That development coincided with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) confirming it would continue what it called its “twin-track” approach to the responsible restart of ExxonMobil’s massive complex.

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It said more than 20 reports confirmed no breaches of air quality standards due to flaring at Mossmorran, but the agency stood ready with a deployment of air quality, noise and regulatory monitoring.

Lochgelly, Auchtertool and Donibristle – upwind and downwind of the complex – ensure that SEPA can monitor in local communities and take account of changes in wind direction.

It has also deployed noise monitoring in Lochgelly and a residential location to the south east of the site, with additional responsive mobile monitoring to be deployed if required.

Air quality monitoring will stay in place whilst the recently announced investments are made at Mossmorran. SEPA is also working alongside other agencies with air quality responsibilities to assess future requirements.

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The agency also confirmed progress in driving change to address the root causes of what it described as “unacceptable” flaring including requiring noise-reducing flare tips and fully enclosed ground flare technologies to be installed that will significantly reduce the impact on the rare future occasions when flaring is necessary.

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Rob Morris, SEPA senior manager, compliance, said: “We’re clear that compliance with Scotland’s environmental rules is simply non-negotiable.

“That’s why we’re continuing our twin-track approach to ExxonMobil.

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“In addition to continuing our monitoring across the responsible restart of the facility, we’re firmly focused on addressing the root causes of ‘unacceptable’ flaring.”
He added: ““People rightly expect that their lives won’t be impacted by nearby industrial processes. In addition to requiring ExxonMobil Chemicals Limited and Shell to install noise reducing flare tips, we’re finalising proposals requiring new ground flare capacity that will be planned, designed, built and safely integrated in the shortest period possible.

“We are working closely together regarding the restart.

“With regulatory, air quality and noise monitoring officers working to ensure a responsible and reliable restart, we’ll provide regular updates and publish monitoring information as quickly as possible.”

Jacob McAlister, plant manager, said, Mossmorran remained on schedule to re-start elevated flaring, adding: “Our team are working hard to optimise the process with the aim of reducing flare size and duration.”