OVER 200 people packed into Lochgelly Town Hall last night unhappy at what was underlined as ‘a lack of trust’ in ExxonMobil and Shell who run the Mossmorran petro-chemical site.
The meeting was called by the Mossmorran Action Group, following the session of flaring at Exxon’s Fife Ethylene Plant which started on Easter Sunday and saw a huge pall of black smoke hang over the area for many hours.
The flaring was to last for six days and saw a huge flame over the site until the following Saturday and loud noise coming from the plant.
SEPA’s Ian Buchanan told the meeting that the organisation had over 900 complaints from people from the Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area, during the flaring period, a record.
The meeting was chaired by John Drummond with a panel made up of MAG chairman James Glen; MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath Lesley Laird; Cowdenbeath MSP Annabelle Ewing; Green MSP Mark Ruskell; Shell plant manager Teresa Waddington; and Ian Buchanan.
Several questions from the floor saw one posed about the smells that can come during flaring, and this questioner said that in Halbeath there had been residents complaining about chemical style odours in their homes.
MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, Alex Rowley, observed that while Shell were represented by their plant boss the lack of an Exxon representative ‘was appalling’ and he added: “We really need to know how safe the site is.
“We have seen statements from Exxon on how they are trying to phase out flaring but then we get a huge situation like during the Easter weekend so how can we be assured of the safety of the site.”
Liz Rae, from Cowdenbeath Community Council, said that the feedback her organisation had received from people living in the town was that during the period of flaring children and pets were alarmed by the light and noise pollution and it all added up to a ‘lack of trust’ in the operators.
Councillor Linda Erskine said: “I have witnessed the happenings at the site since it opened in the 1980s and the recent flaring must have been once of the worst in the Exxon plant’s history.
“There is talk of investment in the plant, I think this is too little too late and the only way we can see the area rid of the problems being caused is decommissioning.”
A lady from Cardenden said: “During the recent flaring I heard the vibration from Mossmorran over my television in my living room.That can’t be right.”
Teresa Waddington stressed that she could only speak from the Shell side and she underlined that millions of pounds were being spent at the NGL plant on continual upgrading in a bid to ensure that problems were kept to a minimum.
Annabell Ewing added: “The lack of trust aspect comes from the fact that that there is no real time air quality monitoring in the communities of this area.
“What clearly is needed is constant monitoring in each town and village so that people can have confidence that things are right.”
SEPA’s Ian Buchanan confirmed that higher scale air monitoring is planned to be happening soon.
Asked what the lifespan of the Mossmorran site could be Teresa Waddington indicated that it was into the 2030s.
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