Local campaigners are joining calls for an independent review into systems operations at the Mossmorran Petrochemical Plant.
It follows another bout of flaring at the plant, which some residents in Central Fife are concerned is having damaging health affects.
Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Alex Rowley and Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP Lesley Laird are asking the government to carry out a ‘root and branch review’ of the ageing plant.
James Glen is the Chair of the Mossmorran Action Group – he says there are certain things the review must look at:
Alex Rowley has written to Roseanna Cunningham, the Cabinet Secretary the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.
His letter reads:
Dear Cabinet Secretary
I refer to my letter of 20th June 2017 in which I highlighted to you the concerns of many residents who live in the towns and villages around the Fife Ethylene Plant at Mossmoran near Cowdenbeath, Fife.
I specifically asked that you consider ordering an independent review of the workings, processes and current condition of the Fife Ethylene Plant. This followed on from a breakdown at the plant which resulted in thick black smoke pouring into the sky above a number of towns and villages which caused major distress for the residents.
You replied on 6th July 2017 stating that SEPA was dealing with this matter and that, as a Minister, you had to remain distant from regulatory decisions taken by SEPA. SEPA has made it clear that their role is to ensure that the license is not breached and that conditions are being met. They have no role in managing the condition of the plant itself.
This weekend we have had another breakdown within the plant that has led to the usual response of flaring, lots of noise and vibration. The company have been stressing that the reason for flaring is one of safety, that flaring is an essential part of the plant’s safety systems and there is no danger to the community.
None of this addresses the key questions that so many people are asking. These questions are: –
Why is the frequency of breakdowns within the plant increasing at an unacceptable level?
Is the plant safe?
Is it acceptable to have a plant which has so many things going wrong with it on our doorstep?
I should be grateful if you could tell me who has responsibility for ensuring the safety of the plant and for answering the above questions.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Alex Rowley MSP
Mid Scotland and Fife
Craig McCafferty, Process Manager at FEP for ExxonMobil Chemical, which operates the plant, said:
“I would like to apologise once again to the local community for the unplanned flaring over the past few days, and to pay tribute to the team at FEP, many of whom live locally, who have worked tirelessly to resolve the issue and return the plant to normal operations.
“We know from first-hand experience that flaring can cause concern and inconvenience, but it is a vital safety system and we never flare without good reason.
“We recognise it can be frustrating to local residents and we are grateful to the local community for their patience and understanding.
“ExxonMobil Chemical kept SEPA fully informed throughout this flaring event, and will be providing an incident report in the next few days.”