Last night’s flaring caused so much concern that there was widespread speculation on social media that the plant might be on fire.
However, ExxonMobil said the elevated flare was deployed as part of ongoing work to restart its operations.
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A spokesman for the operator also moved to reassure locals that this process was ‘safe and controlled’.
In a number of tweets from the company which began shortly after 7.30pm last night, it said: “You might currently see some fluctuations in our elevated flare. This is safe and is part of our ongoing re-start work.
“Our team is working hard to reduce flare size and minimise any disruption.
“We are currently undertaking safe and controlled elevated flaring. Our team are working hard to reduce the size and duration of the flare. We apologise if we have caused any concern.”
Shortly before 11.30pm the plant announced the elevated flaring had come to an end.
However, the flaring has caused widespread concern, particularly among members of the Mossmorran Action Group, a community group which campaigns to protect communities living near the plant.
James Glen, chairman, described the flaring as ‘apocalyptic’: “Tonight’s flaring is absolutely unacceptable,” he said.
“People are petrified, they can’t breathe properly, they are worried sick about the pollution spewing from the plant and they have been left completely in the dark about what is going on.”