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An MSP has said flaring at the Mossmorran plant in Fife is unacceptable after “apocalyptic” scenes last week.
SNP politician Annabelle Ewing urged the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) to take action over unplanned flaring at the Mossmorran petrochemical plant in Fife.
An increased volume of complaints was received by Sepa over the flaring, which caused flames to shoot into the air on the evening of February 13.
Flaring usually takes place when the plant is shut down and has to be restarted, and is used to burn off excess gas that could not otherwise be used.
READ MORE: Fears over Mossmorran flaring after chemical plant made Fife ‘look like Mordor’
Owners ExxonMobil and Shell apologised for any intrusion caused by the restart.
Sepa has previously ordered the owners of the plant to install noise reducing flare tips over the next two years and has also instructed the building of new ground flare capacity, something Ms Ewing believes should be sped up.
The regulator is currently investigating unplanned flaring from April 2019, with results from the inquiry expected soon, according to rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon.
Ms Ewing said: “I would wish to stress that the unplanned elevated flaring last Thursday night was truly apocalyptic in its manifestations.
“It went on for four long hours, causing extreme disturbance, by way of light pollution, and also instilled fear and alarm in many of my constituents.
“Surely, minister, it is time that Sepa press for an accelerated timescale for the proposed new ground flare capacity to be installed because the current position is entirely unacceptable.”
In response, Ms Gougeon said: “I completely understand the concerns the member has raised.
“Sepa has been clear on its objectives in making flaring – which is an important safety mechanism – the exception rather than routine.”
Ms Ewing said the patience of many of her constituents has “been exhausted” and said it was time for Sepa to “get tough” with the owners of the site.
The MSP called for an independent inquiry to be set up into the “environmental, health and social” impacts of the plant.
READ MORE: Investigation launched into unplanned flaring at Mossmorran power plant
Ms Gougeon said it would “not be appropriate” for her to comment on Sepa’s regulatory powers given their status as independent from Government.
But she added: “Given the action that’s being taken by regulators, it’s not clear what any independent inquiry would add at this time, although that is something that will be kept under review.”
Labour MSP Alex Rowley also joined calls for an independent review, receiving the same answer from Ms Gougeon.
Conservative MSP Alexander Stewart urged the minister to meet residents to discuss problems with the site.
She declined, saying “ministers intervening would not be appropriate” while Sepa is carrying out a regulatory investigation.