THE new Scottish Government Minister for Public Health, Joe Fitzpatrick, has been urged to take action over a public health inquiry into the Fife Ethylene Plant, at Mossmorran, as campaigners say the issue is not being taken seriously by the Scottish Government or NHS Fife.
The plant has come under scrutiny over the last year due to an increase in major flaring incidents.
Green MSP, Mark Ruskell, has criticised the slow response to concerns about light, noise and vibration in local people’s homes.
Mr Ruskell has been following the Mossmorran story for more than two years and has spoken to Exxon/Mobil and SEPA on the issue.
The Mossmorran Action Group has collected over 50 reports from local residents documenting the social and health impacts experienced during flaring incidents, including sleep loss, light pollution in the home, vibrations, headaches and migraines, and anxiety attacks.
Mr Ruskell said: “I have met with and written to numerous bodies now regarding Mossmorran, including Fife Council, Sepa and NHS Fife.
“I’m constantly being reassured that air pollution is being monitored, which is to be expected given its part of the plant’s basic legal compliance.
“No one, however, seems prepared to take on local people’s concerns about the noise, light pollution, or vibrations coming from the plant, especially during flaring”.
He added: “NHS Fife have told me it is not their responsibility to carry out research, and haven’t even been attending the regular round table meetings.
“I held a productive meeting with the previous Minister for Public Health who promised to look into the issue further, but the new Minister, Joe Fitzpatrick, has largely ignored the suffering from light, vibration and noise that my constituents face.
“Loss of sleep due to noise and light pollution, or anxiety attacks brought on during flaring, are serious and life altering concerns for local people.
“I understand that these are difficult things to monitor, but that’s why the Public Health Minister needs to show leadership on this and commission an independent study into local people’s public health concerns.”
James Glen, of the Mossmorran Action Group, said: “For years now we have been getting nowhere.
“We are told there is no scientific evidence for the harm Mossmorran’s operations are undoubtedly causing to their health and well-being but then the authorities responsible for gathering evidence refuse to do so. Ultimately it is the Minister for Public Health who has the responsibility for failing to protect Central Fife residents from industrial pollution, and the power to compel the NHS and other agencies to do the necessary research. It’s time he acted.”
In a letter to Mr Ruskell Joe Fitzpatrick said: “We do not intend to commission further work at the current time. There are substantial difficulties in analysing any links between individual health outcomes in relatively small populations, such as the community living around Mossmorran, due to the low numbers of
health events and the complexity of confounding factors.
“An investigation into health impacts is therefore unlikely to yield meaningful or conclusive results”.
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