Around 100 people packed into Lochgelly Town Hall yesterday (Wednesday) evening to share their concerns over the recent flaring at Mossmorran.
For two hours, frustrated local residents, MSPs, councillors, representatives of local organisations and more questioned a panel on the incidents and shared their own opinions.
The meeting was arranged after scores of complaints were made about flaring at the plant.
The panel was chaired by John Drummond, the former CEO of Integrity Works, and included James Glen, from an action group set up in the wake of the flaring, Cllr Alistair Bain, who represented Braefoot Bay & Mossmorran Safety Community Liason Committee, Rob Morris from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), and Kevin Bissett, who works in environmental health at Fife Council.
Shell and ExxonMobil, which runs the Mossmorran facility, declined to send representatives to the meeting.
Questions to the panel ranged from what the possible punishments following SEPA’s investigation could be to what noise monitoring had taken place before and after the recent flaring.
However, for many local residents, the meeting gave them the chance to vent their frustrations over Mossmorran.
One woman said: “I woke up in the middle of the night and my walls were vibrating.
“I phoned the police. It turned out it was just Mossmorran. I shouldn’t have to be scared in my own home at night.”
Another commented: “When is something going to be done? This is just a small sample size of the people being affected. Something needs to be done. This is ridiculous.”
James Glen, founder member of the Mossmorran Action Group, and a member of the panel, opened the meeting said he wanted issues including the health and sound issues to be investigated.
He added: “The fact that there are so many people here tonight shows that there has been an impact and it needs to be addressed.”
Rob Morris from SEPA, said the organisation would be investigating Mossmorran and was in the process of creating a team to undertake the task, before adding: “The flaring went on for a prolonged period and was unsatisfactory.”
He confirmed that as part of the investigation SEPA would be speaking to members of the public to get their opinions.
He also said the possible enforcement measures ranged from providing advice, or issuing a final warning to handing out a fine.
However, the audience called for more community involvement, for permanent sound monitoring of the facility, and for it to be easier to register complaints with SEPA about the site.
There was also considerable frustration that neither Shell nor ExxonMobil had sent representatives.
One member of the public said: “Their absence here speaks volumes. We have to live with this.”
The meeting did have a productive outcome.
The three MSPs in attendance – David Torrance, Alexander Stewart and Mark Ruskell – all agreed that a petition to the Scottish Parliament was the best way for the public to express their concerns to the government.
On Monday, June 12, sudden flaring after a “process upset” at the ExxonMobil controlled facilities woke residents. Flaring, noise and vibration persisted from the plant until Saturday 24.
A separate incident by Shell disrupted operations at ExxonMobil, triggering another flaring incident, which emitted black smoke containing various toxins into the atmosphere, and caused further concern across many communities.