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Scotland’s environmental regulator is seeking a prosecution following six days of flaring at the Mossmorran chemical works in Fife.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) is submitting a report to the Crown Office over the unplanned flaring at the ExxonMobil site in April 2019.
The flare burned for six days and led to more than 900 complaints.
ExxonMobil said it complies with laws and regulations wherever it operates.
Flaring involves burning excess gas either from giant elevated stacks or in facilities at ground level.
Residents have raised concerns about the noise, vibrations and the big bright flames which can be seen as far away as Edinburgh.
James Glen, chairman of Mossmorran Action Group, said it was “extremely welcome news” but that it should not have taken Sepa a year to reach this point.
He added: “In the intervening months Exxon have had to shut down operations for six months because two boilers exploded and communities have been forced to endure two further unacceptable bouts of extreme emergency flaring, which remain under investigation by Sepa.
“Either the Scottish government needs to change the law, or give Sepa the resources it needs to act more promptly to regulate Exxon and give exposed communities the protection ministers promise them.”
In 2018 a final warning letter was served by Sepa in connection with an incident the previous year.
Sepa chief executive Terry A’Hearn said: “Following an extensive investigation into the flaring at Mossmorran during April 2019, we intend to shortly submit a report to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service for consideration of prosecution.
“It’s right that we take enforcement action for the Easter 2019 flaring event. What is just as important is that ExxonMobil Chemical Ltd address the root-causes of ‘unacceptable flaring’.”
ExxonMobil’s plant was shut down for an extended period last year following a series of flaring episodes.
The company has committed to spending £140m on improvement to address the issues.
A spokesman said: “Fife Ethylene Plant works to the highest regulatory standards, is committed to its environmental responsibilities and complies with all applicable laws.
“We fully understand the need to address any community concerns associated with the use of our flare and have already announced a number of initiatives and investments to help us achieve this.
“This includes a 14-step action plan introducing new technology, processes and training that will not only reduce the frequency of flaring events but also noise, light and vibration that can sometimes be experienced when flaring occurs.”
He added that ExxonMobil continued to cooperate “openly and constructively” with Sepa.