The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is investigating the ongoing flaring from ExxonMobil Chemical Limited at the Mossmorran petrochemical plant in Fife following hundreds of complaints.
— Joe Cawthorn (@josephcawthorn) April 25, 2019
- SEPA launches formal regulatory investigation into ExxonMobil Chemical Ltd Easter 2019 unplanned flaring.
- Investigation announced on Thursday as flaring entered its fifth day at the Mossmorran Fife Ethylene Plant.
- Move by SEPA follows ‘Final Warning Letters’ issued to ExxonMobil Chemical Ltd in April 2018 regarding flaring which was found to be “preventable and unacceptable”.
- It also follows SEPA and Health and Safety Executive investigations in 2018/2019, a tightening of permit conditions and an instruction to conduct a ‘Best Available Technologies’ (BAT) assessment, due shortly.
- Over 600 complaints have been received to date by SEPA’s 24 hour Pollution Hotline, one of the highest number for any single event.
- Whilst flaring is an important safety mechanism and is permitted through permit conditions, the latest event featured a full regulatory, air quality and noise monitoring response from SEPA.
The investigation was announced on Thursday by SEPA Chief Executive, Terry A’Hearn, as flaring entered its fifth day at the Mossmorran Fife Ethylene Plant. The move by SEPA follows ‘Final Warning Letters’ issued to ExxonMobil Chemical Ltd in April 2018 regarding flaring which was found to be “preventable and unacceptable”.
It also follows SEPA and Health and Safety Executive investigations in 2018/201919, a tightening of permit conditions and an instruction to conduct a ‘Best Available Technologies’ (BAT) assessment, due shortly.
On Easter Sunday, 21 April 2019, SEPA responded to complaints of unplanned flaring at ExxonMobil Chemical Ltd, Mossmorran. Whilst flaring is an important safety mechanism and is permitted through permit conditions, SEPA deployed a full regulatory, air quality and noise monitoring response which will inform SEPA’s understanding of the nature of the event.
With the operational response continuing across the duration of the incident, including regulatory and noise monitoring, air quality monitoring carried out on Monday 22 April showed no cause for concern.
With ExxonMobil Chemical Limited advising that flaring is likely to continue over the coming days, SEPA has reinforced to the site operators the importance of restarting the plant as quickly as possible with the minimal amount of elevated flaring.
By the time of the investigation announcement over 600 complaints had been received by SEPA’s 24 hour Pollution Hotline, one of the highest number for any single event, and that number has continued to rise.
Terry A’Hearn, SEPA’s CEO (above), said: “Every day, SEPA works to protect and enhance Scotland’s environment and compliance with Scotland’s environmental rules is simply non-negotiable. In addition to working hard to ensure ExxonMobil brings a halt to the flaring as quickly as possible, we have also launched this investigation into the incident.
“The unprecedented number of complaints we have received is a clear message and it’s one that we have heard powerfully and clearly. I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to help us understand the impacts of this flaring, and I encourage people to continue to report to us.
“The Mossmorran complex is a major industrial facility, where this type of flaring is a legitimate safety mechanism, but it’s been happening too often, and the current level and extent of the flaring from ExxonMobil Chemical Limited is unacceptable.”
ExxonMobil issued a community statement at 8:30am yesterday, telling residents:
Dear Community Member
Continuing to work day and night our team is now moving towards the final stages of returning the plant safely to normal operation. Pending any unexpected issues it is anticipated that we will end flaring within 24 hours.
Local residents continued to report flaring on Saturday morning, however, and the Mossmorran Action Group is encouraging concerned residents to continue to contact SEPA.
SEPA says it will provide as much information, as quickly as possible, within the constraints of a live regulatory investigation. Updates will be provided across their online hub www.sepa.org.uk/mossmorran, where communities can sign up for email updates.
To report environmental incidents online please visit www.sepa.org.uk/report or call SEPA’s 24 Hour Pollution Hotline on 0800 80 70 60. Information received in these reports is important in helping SEPA understand the impacts of this unplanned flaring, and we encourage people to continue to report to us.
Due to the volume of calls received over the last few days there has been some pressure on the Pollution Hotline, and so people are encouraged to use the online reporting form via www.sepa.org.uk/report
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