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THE Mossmorran Action Group is concerned that a decision by SEPA to relax rules due to the coronavirus pandemic could give the Mossmorran complex a free reign to fail to keep to the requirements put on them.
Environmental rules governing radioactive waste, fish farming, recycling and other industrial sectors, are being relaxed by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) to help companies cope with Covid-19.
But environmentalists – while understanding the need to protect public health – are worried.
James Glen, chair of the Mossmorran Action Group said: “It is completely unacceptable that SEPA are giving some of Scotland’s worst polluters a free pass. Exxon and Shell have one of Scotland’s worst track records for pollution and complying with environmental regulation, yet SEPA is now suspending their compliance assessment scheme for 2020 and trusting that the companies will do the right thing. In place of active monitoring by SEPA, the companies are being asked to increase their self-reporting.
“In 2018 Shell was fined for underreported propane volumes over a three-year period while in 2012 ExxonMobil was given a record £2.8 million fine for not reporting 33,000 tonnes of CO2. Both companies have broken the rules time and time again, and Exxon remains under major investigation for multiple licence breaches in the last year.
“Local communities do not trust these multinationals and have found it hard to keep faith with SEPA. They will be outraged that SEPA is now using the excuse of the pandemic to tell the Mossmorran operators they are off the hook for the next year.
“Once again it looks as if Scotland’s Environmental Protection Agency lacks the will – or the political backing – to do its job properly.”
Councillor Linda Holt said: “I frankly can’t believe SEPA’s position. When the cat’s away, the mice will play … we’re already seeing a huge increase in speeding, and on walks in the country lanes where we live, we now see PPE nitrile gloves discarded from passing cars to add to the rest of the litter.
“Covid-19 will make polluters behave worse, not better.
“As far as Mossmorran is concerned, the scope for operators to pollute away is on another scale altogether”.
However, SEPA maintain that tests will still be taking place and Shell and Exxon insist their aim to maintain the highest of standards is very much the case at all times.
An Exxon spokesperson said: ”
An ExxonMobil spokesperson said: “The Mossmorran facility is integral to Scotland’s vital energy supply to homes, hospitals, care homes and businesses nationwide, and its teams continue to play a part every day in this supply chain.
“Furthermore, the Fife Ethylene plant is directly supporting the manufacturing supply chain for critical medical supplies and food packaging while remaining rigorously committed to meeting stringent safety and environmental standards. This commitment is in no way compromised by SEPA’s temporary revision to some procedures within its regulatory regime. Robust and transparent monitoring programmes continue unchanged.
“At a time of genuine and unprecedented concern for everyone, we are seeing business, the public, Government and regulators working for the common good of communities all over the country. It is, therefore, disappointing to see an environmental activist promoting his own narrow agenda over the extraordinary and pressing needs of the current time.”
Shell is continuing to strive towards high environmental regulatory standards and remains in regular contact with SEPA.
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