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After an eerie orange glow filled the skies last night, a “frustrated” SEPA received more than 700 complaints over unscheduled flaring at Mossmorran.
The ExxonMobil Chemical Ethylene Plant in Fife started elevated flaring at around 3.30am on Sunday, which lasted until Tuesday afternoon.
Sepa officers remained in contact with the plant and continued to collect data and evidence during the flaring.
Sepa’s four remote monitoring points around the site, at Lochgelly, Auchtertool, Donibristle and Little Raith, continue to capture data, which have shown there was no breach of air quality standards.
Monitors continue to demonstrate no breach of air quality standards.
Chris Dailly, head of environmental performance at Sepa, said: “Whilst we are pleased that the site has now returned to normal operations and is no longer flaring, we remain frustrated by the frequency of flaring and the flow of information from the operator.
“We’ve also clearly heard the impact flaring continues to have on local communities through over 740 reports to us since Sunday.
“Whilst we await a full, detailed report from the operator on the cause of the latest flaring incident, the operator has indicated a compressor fault.
“The evidence we are gathering will enable us to determine whether there has been a breach of the site’s permit conditions and what our next steps should be in line with our published enforcement policy.
“We are clear on our expectations of ExxonMobil Chemical Limited, including requiring the installation of noise-reducing flare tips followed by the installation of ground flares.
“What we need now is for ExxonMobil to step up and recognise the depth of community anger and make real progress in making flaring the exception rather than the routine – and we will employ all available measures to ensure they do so.”
Annabelle Ewing MSP, for Cowdenbeath, has welcomed confirmation from Sepa that elevated flaring at ExxonMobil’s Mossmorran plant has now ceased.
Ms Ewing said: “I am just of the phone with Sepa after my second telephone call with them in two days and am pleased to have received confirmation that the flaring from Mossmorran has now stopped.
“However, I remain extremely unhappy with this situation. I, again, made a call for Sepa to consider what emergency powers it can bring to bear, taking into account the frequency of these unplanned flaring events by Exxon.
“It is really concerning that Exxon did not give Sepa more information about the cause of this further unplanned flaring or of its expected duration. Whether that is ‘could not’ or ‘would not´remains to be clarified.
“Whilst I recognise that a flaring incident like this is not – per se – a breach of ExxonMobil’s permit conditions, nonetheless I believe that Sepa should be looking at the pattern of behaviour over recent years where such unplanned flaring incidents from Mossmorran have made the lives of many of my constituents a misery and raise concerns about the safety of the plant.
“I have written to the chief executive of the Health & Safety Executive and others and I will continue to pursue this issue.”