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The dramatic flaring at Mossmorran – which could be seen across the Forth – has sparked fresh criticism from an action group.
The reaction came after Fife Ethylene Plant confirmed a “process upset” was the reason behind the flaring.
It later gave more details, stating a trip in one of the plant’s major processors sparked the action.
The action came less than two weeks after the plant was re-started after a six month shutdown.
Mossmorran Action Group (MAG) said the flaring happened because “something has gone badly wrong” – and it called on the Scottish Government to step in.
Linda Holt, group spokesman, said: “As the ground shakes, and a huge bright flame amid clouds of black smoke looms over communities, they are expected to suffer in ignorance. SEPA expects the flaring to last all night but Exxon cannot say when it will stop.
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“Since the “catastrophic breakdown” of the plant last August which caused continual ground flaring, the problems restarting according to schedule, the “apocalyptic flaring” a couple of weeks ago and a walk-out by workers over safety issues, neither ExxonMobil nor HSE nor SEPA have offered any explanation.
“Reassurances that the plant is ‘safe’ do not wash.”
She claimed a whistleblower had told MAG that the re-start happened prematurely “with only two out of three boilers and these were “unfinished”.
Operator ExxonMobil said: “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.
“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.”