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Serious concerns over the running of a Fife chemical plant were raised by an independent health and safety regulator almost two years ago, it has emerged.
Details released by the Scottish Greens following a Freedom of Information request revealed the UK-wide Health and Safety Executive found “advanced external erosion” and a “significant number of steam leaks” during inspections of the ExxonMobil complex at Mossmorran in August 2018.
Concerns were also raised about a “pattern developing” whereby ithe company was “failing to provide adequate information” to the HSE when requested, according to documents obtained by Green MSP Mark Ruskell.
It comes just days after ExxonMobil was referred to the Crown Office by Scottish regulator SEPA over unplanned flaring at the site in April 2019.
Mr Ruskell said the revelations highlighted the fact that something was wrong at the plant before last year’s episode.
ExxonMobil has accused the Mid-Scotland and Fife Holyrood member of creating “unnecessary public concern”.
The FOI confirmed an improvement notice was issued in 2018 requiring the company “to address the common systematic causes” of failures at the plant.
Correspondence also later described a gap in the plant’s safety management system which the HSE believed had “contributed to technical failings”.
Mr Ruskell said: “There have been fears that the regular flaring at the plant has been a symptom that all is not well, but these details from HSE confirm them.
“Exxonmobil is an international oil and gas giant, but this correspondence shows it does not seem to learn from incidents at its sites around the world. It also reveals just how corroded and run-down the site is.
“Communities in Fife need a safe and sustainable future, which is why the Scottish Government needs to take immediate action to protect them and a enter a serious discussion about the future of the site.”
ExxonMobil said the Fife Ethylene Plant had never experienced a major incident in more than 30 years.
A spokesperson said: “Not only do we operate within one of the most highly regulated industries, we operate to the very highest safety and risk management standards, and work closely with the HSE in full compliance with their approved processes.
“Furthermore, we continuously look at ways to improve safety, reliability and efficiency through continued maintenance and investment.
“Mr Ruskell continues to speak on areas that he would appear not to fully understand and, in doing so, creates unnecessary public concern.
“Having called for the closure of Mossmorran, he has also yet to provide any meaningful proposal to replace the loss to the hundreds of people and their families who rely on the facility for their livelihoods, or the major economic contribution made to Fife and Scotland.”