The boss of Scotland’s environment agency is to meet with the senior manager of Exxonmobil to discuss the controversial unscheduled flaring at Mossmorran.
Terry A’Hearn, chief executive of SEPA, will hold talks with recently appointed plant boss, Jacob McAlister, on Monday.
The direct contact comes as SEPA decsribed the flaring as “happening too often” and “wholly unacceptable.”
It also revealed the latest flaring – which sent huge clouds of black smoke across Fife, visible for miles down the Forth – had prompted over 750 complaints to the organisation’s pollution hotline; one of the highest number for any single event.
That figure is a ten-fold increase on the number of complaints recorded after a seven-day flaring in 2017.
Exxonmobil informed SEPA on Saturday that elevated flaring had ceased, but it advised that ground flaring was continuing ‘above normal levels’ for an unspecified “short period.”
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The flaring, which started during the Bank Holiday weekend, sparked more anger in local communities, and calls for action from politicians.
The thick black smoke could be seen across the Forth and down the east coast as far as Dunbar.
The noise caused by the flaring was also a major source of anger for residents living close to the giant ethelyne plant.
SEPA said it was continuing monitor the situation and pledged to publish a further review early next week.
It will also issue a summary of the discussions between Mr A’Hearn and Mr McAlister.
SEPA’s CEO said the agency had brief local politicians, and it would attend a community meeting scheduled for May 17.
Mr A’Hearn said the level of flaring at Mossmorran was “happening too often” and “wholly unacceptable.”
He added: “Exxonmobil have advised that after six long days and nights for local communities, elevated flaring has ceased. They advise however that ground flaring will continue for what they describe as a short period.
“Whilst the elevated flaring may have stopped, our full regulatory, air quality and noise monitoring response will continue across the weekend and our formal regulatory investigation, announced on Thursday, is just getting started.
“Whilst the Mossmorran complex is a major industrial facility where this type of flaring is a legitimate safety mechanism, this is happening too often and the level and extent of flaring is wholly unacceptable.
“Understanding the impact of flaring provided by local communities, families and individuals is vitally important and, as such, we would encourage people to continue to report impacts directly to us online or via our 24 hour pollution hotline.
“We’ll continue to make information available as quickly as possible, including a further update on monitoring results early next week.”
It its latest bulletin update to the community, ExxonMobil said: “We are already undertaking our investigation into this unplanned event, focusing on root cause, corrective action and evaluation of ways to continuously improve our response following a process upset.
Furthermore, we will next week submit to SEPA our Best Available Techniques report, which will set a pathway to further minimise unplanned flaring events.”
The plant was issued with a final warning letter by SEPA in April 2018 regarding flaring which was found to be “preventable and unacceptable”.
For more information go HERE www.sepa.org.uk/report
To lodge a complaint, call the 24 hour pollution hotline on 0800 80 70 60.
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