Kirkcaldy’s MP has called for more information behind the “unprecedented” lengthy closure of Mossmorran.
Lesley Laird has also renewed her call to Roseanne Cunningham, Environment Secretary, to intervene after Fife Ethylene Plant confirmed its planned four-week closure could now be extended to four months.
ExxonMobil announced this week it won’t re-activate the plant until sometime in the last quarter of 2019, with November the likeliest date.
The closure came after a break down of two of its three boilers, and represents a “significant commercial and operational impact” on the company which has been under fire for unscheduled flaring and issues with the plant.
Ms Laird said: “It’s an unprecedented move for ExxonMobil to leave a window of up to four months to fix issues at Mossmorran.
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“Given it anticipated repairs would be completed in one month this development is extremely concerning, suggesting as it does that problems are more complex than originally thought.
“I’m concerned, as are local communities, and it’s vitally important we understand what led to this decision.”
She added: “ExxonMobil wouldn’t shut down Mossmorran – and lose vast amounts of money over the course of weeks and months – unless it was absolutely forced to.”
The MP has previously called on the Scottish Government to launch an independent investigation into multiple flaring episodes at Mossmorran.
She added: “Under these new circumstances, I call once again on Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham to intervene and find out what is really going on here.
“Members of the public are mystified why the Scottish Government won’t investigate.
“Environmental concerns are at the heart of community concerns, and they want their Government to take those concerns seriously and act.
“These plants are operated by multinational companies but that should not mean a hands off approach from the Minister.”
In response, Stuart Neill, external affairs manager for ExxonMobil said: “We note the comments made by Ms. Laird and want to provide important factual clarification.
“We took the decision to temporarily shut down our plant to give us the time and opportunity to fully assess the root cause of our boiler issues and develop a plan of work.
“We have now done this and have subsequently indicated a timeframe within which we will execute that work. We are also using this opportunity to undertake additional maintenance that can help improve operational reliability upon re-start.”