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SCOTTISH Conservative and Unionist candidate for Cowdenbeath, Darren Watt, has spoken out about ExxonMobil and their latest unplanned flaring incident at Mossmorran.
The plant had to flare during the night after a process upset during heavy rain on Saturday.
Mr Watt said: “Once again, residents throughout the area have been woken abruptly by horrendous noise and light pollution because of yet another major operational failure by ExxonMobil.”
“This is unacceptable and their predictable assurances are quite frankly meaningless.
“Actions speak louder than words and they’ve done absolutely nothing over the years to alleviate people’s legitimate fears and concerns about the plants overall safety and viability.”
He added: “When the first major incident occurred in 2017, we knew things would never every be the same again but this latest malfunction comes just days after the future of Mossmorran was discussed at the Scottish Parliament and only strengthens critics’ argument that the plant is simply no longer fit for purpose and transition away from its current operations is absolutely paramount.”
Darren Watt, currently a councillor for the Cowdenbeath ward concluded: “Local communities aren’t asking for much.
“They just want ExxonMobil to be a more responsible and considerate neighbour but continue to be let down resulting in further erosion of trust. It’s little wonder calls for permanent closure continue to grow louder with each preventable incident that occurs.”
James Glen, chair of the Mossmorran Action Group said: “This is the second time during a severe storm that Mossmorran has to resort to emergency flaring.
“Last time it was caused by flooding in an electrical storm. What is it this time?
“Once again Exxon is hiding behind a “process upset” and local communities are left with the terrifying experience of emergency flaring in an unrestricted time frame.
“If the plant cant cope with Scottish weather, should it be operating at all?”
Said plant mnager Jacob McAlister: “Our engineers are progressing with the replacement of a faulty part in our compressor, and will then move to safely re-start into Monday.
“During this time, we will continue working to minimise elevated flaring wherever possible. We will provide a further update when the compressor is re-started and we have returned to normal production.
“We understand that our elevated flare can cause frustration, but it ensures we maintain safe operations and is not something we would ever use without good reason”.
Whilst limited, controlled flaring is an authorised and important safety feature of industrial sites, SEPA understand the every real potential for community impacts and are assessing whether there has been a breach of permit conditions.
In addition to their four monitoring points around the site, SEPA officers have deployed to record community impacts at five locations surrounding Mossmorran. Officers have noted community noise and monitors continue to demonstrate no breach of air quality standards.
Chris Dailly, SEPA’s Head of Environmental Performance said: “Whilst limited, controlled flaring is an authorised and important safety feature of industrial sites, we know it has been happening too often at Mossmorran and the community impacts are often significant.
“That’s why we have referred ExxonMobil Chemical Limited to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) for consideration of prosecution related to the Easter 2019 flaring event and why we have required the installation of noise reducing flare tips by 8 May 2021 followed by the installation of ground flares.
“Whilst we don’t know yet from the company the cause of the latest flaring or expected duration, we will provide further updates as soon as further information becomes available.”