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THE increase in flaring at the Fife Ethylene Plant over the weekend saw people in neighbouring communities really concerned by the operation.
On Sunday the size of the flame was at its biggest and it brought concerns from the Mossmorran Action Group.
Chair of the group, James Glen said: “Exxon & SEPA are putting out regular PR but this is nothing but a sop for residents who have effectively been abandoned to suffer the impacts of extreme flaring.
“Both the ground flares and elevated flare stack have been blazing their utmost for days now, but all residents are being told is that Exxon is trying its best and SEPA is monitoring. This is not good enough”.
He added: “Both SEPA and Exxon have proudly declared the improvement in communications, but when it really matters, communities are told nothing meaningful. “There must be a plan with clear timelines for the restart and flaring requirements which has presumably been shared with SEPA – why isn’t it shared with the public so they know what to expect?
“After what HSE termed two catastrophic boiler breakdowns last August, resulting in explosions Exxon kept schtum about, people are naturally afraid and sceptical. The suspicion inevitably arises that once again the extended period of extreme flaring is because things have not gone according to plan.
“People are at their wits’ end. The MAG facebook page has been inundated with shocking photos, often taken at night when residents cannot sleep because of the light and rumbling from the plant. Many are complaining of headaches, breathing difficulties, sore throats and irritated eyes.”
FEP manager Jacob McAlister said at the weekend: “We are moving safely through the key stages of our re-start.
“Our team continue to restrict as much of the necessary flaring to the ground flare as possible, but people will see ongoing fluctuations in the use of our elevated flare.
“Re-starting our facility is a complex process and we are taking the time required to do this safely at every stage.
“We again stress that the use of the flare is the safest way to re-start our operations, and we continue working hard with the aim of reducing flare size and duration.”