The operators of Fife’s Ethylene plant at Mossmorran have hit back at concerns raised by environmentalists and say the facility is one of the most modern and efficient plants of its type in Europe.
ExxonMobil, which runs the Fife Ethylene Plant (FEP) close to Cowdenbeath, also says there is nothing to fear from the flaring, adding that it IS safe.
The company, one of the world’s largest, has gone on the defensive following claims from environmentalists that flaring has increased fourfold in the last decade.
It also follows a number of incidents of unplanned and extended flaring in the last 12 months which are currently being investigated by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).
A spokesman for ExxonMobil told the Press: “The plant is one of the most modern and efficient plants of its type in Europe, and we conduct continuous maintenance to ensure safe and environmentally responsible operations of the plant.
“Every few years we conduct more intensive maintenance utilising the latest technologies.
“This investment in the plant’s future operations carries the occasional need for longer than normal periods of flaring in order to enable the planned maintenance work to be completed safely.
“The FEP’s largest emissions correspond to years in which such planned maintenance has taken place – and SEPA’s figures reflect this.”
And it added that the flaring equipment is designed specifically to handle excess hydrocarbons safely.
“It works in a similar manner to a safety valve on a central heating boiler, and is an established precautionary mechanism used worldwide in petrochemical plants such as FEP and refineries, to help reduce gas pressure from the plant by safely processing hydrocarbons,” said the spokesman.
“We regret any concern that flaring may cause.
“We minimise flaring where possible, and make every effort to restore operations as quickly as we can.”
Furthermore, ExxonMobil says it continues to meet the highest standards of regulation.
“Since 1989 a programme of emissions monitoring, control and reduction has been in place,” said the spokesman.
“Testing by Fife Council’sIndependent Air Quality Monitoring Review Group has consistently concluded over the years that the operations of FEP continue to pose no significant risk to the health of members of the local community.
“Regular studies by Fife Council’s Independent Air Quality Review Group confirm the plant operates within the strict limits set by the independent regulator.
“Over the 28 years that it has operated, the group has consistently recorded acceptable air quality in the communities around FEP.”
The robust rebuttal of the fears raised by environmentalists by the plant operator follows calls from some politicians for an independent review into into operations at Mossmorran.