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The boss of the Mossmorran chemical plant in Fife has apologised for unplanned flaring yesterday evening which could be seen for miles.
The bright orange glow lit up the sky across Fife, Edinburgh and the Lothians.
The plant was restarted two weeks ago after being shut down last year following repeated flaring.
Plant Manager Jacob McAlister said yesterday: “We have, unfortunately, experienced a trip on one of our major compressors. Our team is currently undertaking the necessary checks to begin a safe re-start. We apologise for any inconvenience.
“In order to keep the rest of the plant running and reduce total duration of flaring, we need to manage this process through our elevated flare. We are also working with our neighbours Shell to maximise ground flare capacity.
“The use of the flare is completely safe, and we will continue to keep you updated as we work our way through this process.
“We apologise for any inconvenience to our local communities.”
The process of flaring involves burning off gas that cannot be processed. The site, which is shared by ExxonMobil Chemical Ltd and Shell Fife NGL, is used to produce ethylene.
Head of Environmental Performance at SEPA Chris Dailly said the environmental body was ‘disappointed’ by the flaring.
“Having been clear that flaring must become the exception rather than routine, we’re disappointed that flaring by ExxonMobil Chemical Limited has occurred again so soon after the restart,” he said.
He added: ““SEPA is requiring a detailed briefing on the nature of the current incident and we expect the company to provide timely updates to the community.
“Whilst recognising that flaring is an important safety mechanism, this is a further reminder of why the short and medium term steps being taken by SEPA to mitigate flaring is so critical, including noise-reducing flare tips in 2020/21 and bringing forward plans for fully enclosed ground flares.”
Edinburgh Evening News readers commented that they could see the flaring from across Edinburgh.
“It looks like Mordor,” commented one.
“It’s those Orcs and Sauron at it again,” added another.