Mossmorran flaring prompts over 600 complaints

Unscheduled flaring at Fife Ethelyne Plant, Mossmorran (Pic: David Wardle)
Unscheduled flaring at Fife Ethelyne Plant, Mossmorran (Pic: David Wardle)

More than 600 complaints have been logged over unscheduled flaring at Mossmorran which sent thick black smoke belching into the skies during the Bank Holiday weekend.

They were logged by SEPA – the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency – which is investigating what happened at Fife Ethelyne Plant.

The complaints were all made to the agency’s pollution hotline, and have been picked up by Fife MSPs who are calling for action.

Mark Ruskell, Scottish Greens, Mid Scotland and Fife, called on the First Minister to intervene, pointing to ExxonMobil, operators of the plant, being served with final warnings by SEPA after incidents of unscheduled flaring in 2017 and 2018.

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He said: “The fact that over 600 complaints have been received to date by SEPA’s 24 hour pollution hotline about Mossmoran flaring - one of the highest number for any single event - shows the depth of feeling there is on this issue.

“It’s not good enough for SEPA to just respond with a new investigation.

“There have been multiple investigations, and ExxonMobil has already been given a final warning.

“In my book, when a final warning is breached, fines or other sanctions should follow.

“The Government must now take firm action against those responsible.”

Mr Ruskell also wants an investigation into the impact on local communities, and people’s health.

He added: “It’s time for an independent social impact study into the plant, and the sleeplessness, anxiety and health issues that are reported by the local community each time it flares.”

The holiday weekend flaring was caused by a “process interruption.”
ExxonMobil said there was “no danger to the local communities” and added: “Flaring is necessary following an interruption in our steam generating boilers.”

The plant has since restarted two of the three major pieces of process equipment and is on its way back to normal working.

A statement – the sixth update since the weekend – issued to the community said: “Working day and night, our team has now re-started two out of three major pieces of process equipment.

“We continue working towards a safe start-up of remaining equipment and return to normal operations.”
Exxonmobil said that SEPA has confirmed there is no cause for concern in relation to air quality.

The statement added: “Everyone at the plant is committed to minimising both flaring and timescales for the return to normal operation.”