The results of an investigation into prolonged flaring at Mossmorran are expected to be announced before the end of the year.
That’s according to the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who have been looking into incidents at the plant.
In April, final warning letters were issued to ExxonMobil and Shell UK for unplanned flaring incidents at the complex.
And Lesley Laird, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, said: “While there have been no major incidents of late, communities were plagued by a series of prolonged flaring episodes at Mossmorran over the past year. We still don’t know why that was the case.
“There are still open lines of enquiry, but representatives from SEPA and HSE were able to tell us that the joint investigation is expected to conclude in November.
“The findings, including any interventions required, will then be available on HSE’s website within 30 days.”
The MP co-chairs the Mossmorran Communities Working Group, which has been given updates.
Residents were badly affected by noise, vibration and black smoke over seven days in June last year, while there were also unplanned flaring events in October 2017 and March 2018.
She added: “I’m glad a date has been announced because the regularity of these episodes was unacceptable and communities surrounding Mossmorran deserve answers.
”We also need to know how this can be prevented from happening again in future.”
The Mossmorran complex processes 50 per cent of Scotland’s energy and the 222km-long St Fergus pipeline, which supplies ethylene to the site and provides 15 per cent of Scotland’s gas supply, cannot be shut down automatically.
Hence the reason why flaring – which is an essential safety mechanism – can carry on for days during an incident. Shell and ExxonMobil also invested £225m in 2010 to ensure the plant was “fit for another 50 years” and said the plant’s reputation and safety record was of paramount importance.
At a previous meeting of the cross-party community group, held before the summer holidays, SEPA’s chief executive Terry A’Hearn spoke directly with community representatives and made a clear commitment to halt unplanned flaring.
Variations to Mossmorran’s permit were imposed by SEPA to include legally binding conditions requiring the plant to take preventative measures now against noise and vibration.
In addition, ExxonMobil and Shell revealed it was in the early stages of commissioning a review of the plant in light of best available techniques, expected to take up to a year to complete.
Ms Laird said: “We established this group to bring pressure to bear on Mossmorran and I think, by having the right people around a table, we are succeeding.
“At our most recent meeting progress was made in determining steps in a plan to ensure better monitoring of air quality, noise and vibration.
“We’ve still got a long way to go yet on this and other issues before communities will be satisfied their concerns have been properly addressed. But, thanks to the ongoing commitment of all members of the group, I think we’re on the right road.”
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