I had to rub my eyes when I read your article “There will be more flaring” (October 17) about Exxon’s latest PR flurry following the meeting of Lesley Laird’s Mossmorran Action Group, which I attended the previous Friday.
On the one hand, representatives from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) had confirmed to Lesley’s Group that there were two “explosions” at the plant in August, owing to two “catastrophic” breakdowns of boilers. HSE did not balk at using these words to describe what happened, even after the ExxonMobil boss objected to the word “explosion” because the public might misunderstand it!
The danger of public “misunderstanding” is presumably why ExxonMobil kept stumm about the ongoing major HSE investigation, passing off the catastrophic boiler breakdowns in August as “mechanical issues” and the continuing shutdown of the ethylene plant as due to “maintenance work”.
On the other hand, ExxonMobil insists on the safety of school children’s visits to the plant, despite HSE raising a number of concerns about risk assessments and communication of key information, because “we would not want future generations being denied the same valuable scientific learning opportunities”.
Nor would I – but, unlike ExxonMobil, I do not believe that “valuable scientific learning opportunities” can only occur at a pond at a petrochemical facility with a history of explosions, poor maintenance and continuous flaring since August – as opposed to, say, the water at Lochore Meadows or the Kinghorn Ecology Centre.
Then, again, I may be misunderstanding things.
Linda Holt (Cllr)