Mossmorran flaring: Anger over 'ten incidents in a month'

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Continued flaring at Fife’s Mossmorran ethylene plant has caused anger, with claims that there have been at least ten separate incidents in March alone.

It comes after £140m investment in upgrading the facility which was aimed towards reducing flaring.

One nearby resident who was woken by flaring, has catalogued a number of cases throughout March, with photos and video clips showing ten different occasions, and has also been in touch with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).

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Vikki Robertson, who lives in Cowdenbeath, said that often, the flaring has been at night.

She said: “It was March 3 that I first noticed it.

"I was asleep and I was woken, and wasn’t sure why until I looked out and could see the light and hear the noise.

“They tend to flare during the night maybe because they think we won’t notice."

Vikki has also been taking photos and video clips to post online.

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Vikki has been capturing the stack in pictures and video.Vikki has been capturing the stack in pictures and video.
Vikki has been capturing the stack in pictures and video.

“I do document the flaring whenever I see it.”It’s been flaring at least 10 times since the start of March. I just think the last they could do is inform us.

This isn’t fair to the community, we should be warned.

SEPA said Mossmorran admitted there were some flaring, but it was just a test.

You can understand if they need to flare sometimes, but not all the time like this.

“Flaring’s not a healthy thing, not for us or the environment.

“The pollution that comes out of it is not good.”

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However, bosses at Mossmorran say that flaring can often be confused with the pilot lights that run permanently within the flare stacks at Mossmorran.

An ExxonMobil spokesperson said: ‘’There has been no unplanned flaring at Fife Ethylene Plant since February 2021.

‘’We pro-actively advised the community of planned, low volume flaring during daylight hours from March 7 to enable essential inspection work on a product pipeline as part of our HSE regulatory requirements. Both SEPA and the acoustic consultant engaged by FEP confirmed this planned flaring had no noise impacts.

‘’Our elevated flare was not in use on the other dates stated.

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‘’Furthermore, we are also installing an Enclosed Ground Flare, which will reduce the use of the elevated flare by at least 98%, is quieter than a petrol lawnmower, and will be almost invisible when operating under a clear sky. This is targeted to be operational by the end of this year.’’

A spokesperson for SEPA said: “SEPA’s air quality monitoring in the vicinity of the complex continues and our remote air quality monitoring points at Lochgelly, Auchtertool and Donibristle captured data through March. These continue to demonstrate no breach of air quality standards. Remote noise monitoring also continues and in addition, one of our noise scientists attended locations in Lochgelly, Donibristle, Auchtertool and Hill of Beath during the planned flaring on 7 March to assess potential impacts. In this case, flaring noise was not audible or not distinguishable above general site noise. Our published report is online at our Mossmorran Hub.

“We continue to encourage site operators to communicate updates with the local community and provide our own updates via our Mossmorran Hub.”