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NHS Fife do feel that flaring from the Mossmorran Petro-chemical complex does have a serious impact on people’s lives.
The organisation carried out an investigation on the impact of the plant on the communities surrounding the plant and found that sleep disturbance and anxiety were caused by the impact of flaring.
The report prepared by NHS Fife said: “The complaints to SEPA revealed that direct health concerns were dwarfed by the number of more general complaints about the sight and sound (‘nuisance’) of unplanned (especially high level) flaring events and site safety concerns.
“Callers far more frequently mentioned the sensory impact of the flaring and health effects mostly related to symptoms potentially attributable to raised levels of anxiety,annoyance and sleep disturbance.
“Cancer was a minority concern during the recent unplanned high-level flaring episode (six mentions amongst over 900
calls). We might consider possible health impact mechanisms in the following categories: a) Non-visible effects of flaring (air quality and cancer risk for example) b) Direct physical effects of flaring (sleep disturbance, annoyance) c) Anxiety and stress caused by concern about a) and b).”
The reported added: “In relation to mechanism a) and the respiratory symptoms listed above, air quality has been subject to close scrutiny throughout the life of this site and NHS Fife and partners have an ongoing role in monitoring this through the Mossmorran and Braefoot Bay Independent Air Quality Review Group.
“SEPA, as regulator, monitor air quality more intensively during and after flaring incidents. No significant impact on local air quality has been found. For example, recent monitoring found levels to be four times lower than air quality standards”.
Lesley Laird, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, said: “This report will be a relief to communities in that they know their health concerns are being taken seriously. The question now is – what will NHS Fife do with this information and what are the wider implications for people living near Mossmorran?
“NHS Fife revealed during Mossmorran Action Group’s public meeting in May that GPs were warned to expect an increase in visits from people with health problems they believed were connected to flaring. Questions were raised about the impact of noise, light and vibration, and the effect that was having on people, particularly young children, in relation to sleep patterns.”
Lesley added: “This is an important study. The work looked at the wider health impacts of flaring in relation to people’s wellbeing, and I want to learn how this information is currently recorded, if at all, and what should be the most appropriate way going forward to ensure this insight is captured in a coherent way.
“I have been repeatedly calling on the Scottish Government Minister Roseanna Cunningham to conduct an independent review – this study is yet another reason why she must now act.”
Linda Holt, spokesperson for the Mossmorran Action Group said: “There cannot be a shred of doubt that when Mossmorran flares, it’s bad for its neighbours’ health.
“It is disgraceful that it has taken 34 years for the authorities to listen to residents and acknowledge the obvious. This study is only a first step. It is a limited desktop analysis of complaints about pollution to an environmental regulator during a short timeframe. Many people affected will not have contacted SEPA or thought health a relevant factor.
“The study admits that more research and analysis on cancer rates in the Mossmorran area and on flaring by ethylene plants is needed.
“It is now time for the Scottish Government to heed the cross-party call for a properly-resourced independent study to establish the full health, social and environmental impacts of the plant.”
Stuart Neill, external affairs manager for ExxonMobil said: “We fully understand the need to address any community concerns associated with flaring and are already delivering our Best Available Techniques programme.
“This comprehensive 14-step action plan including new technology, processes and training will not only reduce the frequency of flaring but also noise, light and vibration on the occasions when we need to use the flare.
“Furthermore, we are investing an additional £140m in modernisation and maintenance that will help to further improve operational reliability and reduce unplanned flaring.”