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PLANT bosses have apologised as flaring at Mossmorran last night (Thursday) caused outrage from locals and community groups.
ExxonMobil Chemical Ltd said that there was ‘fluctuations’ with the elevated flare at Fife Ethylene Plant yesterday evening.
In a series of tweets starting at 7.36pm, the company posted: “You might currently see some fluctuations in our elevated flare. This is safe and is part of our ongoing re-start work.
“Our team is working hard to reduce flare size and minimise any disruption.
“We are currently undertaking safe and controlled elevated flaring. Our team are working hard to reduce the size and duration of the flare. We apologise if we have caused any concern.”
And, at 11.24pm, they announced that their elevated flaring had come to an end.
They posted: “We have now ended elevated flaring and will work to maintain this wherever possible as we continue our work.
“Again, we apologise for any concern we may have caused for local communities during the use of the flare earlier this evening.”
They have also tweeted this morning, stating that the flaring seen last night was ‘not unusual’ during the re-start process.
A spokesperson said: “Our flaring last night is not unusual during a complex re-start but we absolutely appreciate this may have caused concern.
“We addressed it within a few hours and are committed to safely completing re-start as soon as practicable, while avoiding elevated flaring wherever possible.”
Jacob McAlister, plant manager, announced on Monday that the plant was in the final stage of its re-start after it shut down in August after a period of unplanned flaring.
The latest case of flaring has sparked outrage in the local community.
It has been reported that the flare could be seen from as far away as Dundee and Edinburgh.
Cowdenbeath councillor Darren Watt shared a photo (featured) he shot from the main gate of Mossmorran last night and described the flaring as the ‘most intense’ he had ever seen.
He said: “Although we’ve been assured by ExxonMobil and SEPA that the restart is progressing well and as safely as possible, I’m sure we all want this to end at the earliest opportunity.”
SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) posted a statement stating that they had specialist officers addressing the situation.
A spokesperson said: “SEPA is aware of fluctuations in the elevated flare at Mossmorran as part of the final stage of the facility restart and specialist officers continue to monitor.
“We’re working hard to address the root-causes of ‘unacceptable flaring’, making flaring an exception rather than routine.”
James Glen, chair of Mossmorran Action Group, described the events of last night as ‘apocalyptic’.
He said: “Tonight’s flaring is absolutely unacceptable.
“People are petrified, they can’t breathe properly, they are worried sick about the pollution spewing from the plant and they have been left completely in the dark about what is going on.”