Greens slam ‘toothless report’ into Mossmorran

The plant has been criticised for flaringPicture: Steve Gunn
The plant has been criticised for flaringPicture: Steve Gunn

Mossmorran’s plant operators have “shown utter disregard for the law and got away with it”, according to a Fife Green MSP

Mark Ruskell, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, criticised the outcome of a report into the operations of the Fife Ethylene Plant.

The report, by environmental regulator SEPA, was looking into four instances of unplanned flaring at the plant in 2017 and 2018, which saw black smoke, noise and vibrations being emitted from the plant for up to five days at a time.

‘Final warning’ letters were issued to the plant operators Shell and ExxonMobil in 2018, but today’s report concluded that no further penalties would be issued.

Mr Ruskell said: “This toothless report is yet another blow to the communities who have to live right up against Mossmorran and deal with the pollution and disturbance created each time the plant flares.

“Sepa has already said these instances were ‘preventable and unacceptable’, making them a breach of the plants operating licenses, but there are to be no financial penalties as a result. These are two of the world’s biggest companies, who have shown utter disregard for the law and got away with it.

“I welcome the enhanced air monitoring that Sepa will be carrying out, but I have been raising the wider issue of noise, vibrations and light pollution since 2017 and all we have got in this report is a vague commitment to discuss ‘a forward programme for environmental monitoring’.

“This doesn’t reflect the detailed information on environmental impacts being brought forward by the local community, and it simply isn’t good enough.”

Jacob McAlister is plant manager at the Fife Ethylene Plant. He said: “ExxonMobil Chemical welcomes the update from SEPA, which acknowledges our continued commitment to minimise flaring at the plant.

“While instances of flaring – a vital operational procedure – are relatively infrequent, we absolutely understand the potential disturbance they can cause.

“Our highly skilled employees have worked tirelessly to address and correct the root cause of past events, and are committed to identifying further operational and technology solutions to reduce light and noise intrusion.

“Furthermore, only this month we safely completed a key piece of engineering maintenance without the need for flaring. This demonstrated our commitment to planning and executing work in a way that ensures the safety of our employees and our surrounding communities, as well as protection of the environment.”

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