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Operators of a Fife chemical complex have confirmed that a technical problem led to yet another period of unplanned flaring at the site.
Neighbouring residents expressed their anger on social media after Mossmorran started flaring on Tuesday afternoon, with the plant’s bright orange flare and black billowing smoke seen for miles around.
The flaring ceased a few hours later and ExxonMobil said the plant was only flaring for a “short time”.
The unplanned flaring comes as plant operators continue to face criticism over similar periods of flaring over the past year, while a petition calling for Mossmorran to be shut down has now reached over 1,000 signatories.
However, ExxonMobil and Shell say they are investing heavily in new measures, including state-of-the-art flare tips, which aim to minimise the impact of the flaring process.
A spokesperson for ExxonMobil apologised for the latest bout of flaring, which regularly prompts complaints from local people concerned about light, noise and environmental pollution, but said the process was completely safe.
“We are sorry for the current use of our flare while our team work to resolve a technical issue,” the spokesperson said.
“We do understand that our flare can cause disruption and concern for some in our local communities, but want to assure you it is completely safe.”
The process of flaring involves burning off gas that cannot be processed. The site, which is shared by ExxonMobil Chemical Ltd and Shell Fife NGL, is used to produce ethylene.
But, even though the technique is legally permitted, it causes significant light and noise pollution which the operator is obliged to minimise.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) said it was aware of the latest flaring episode and had contacted the site.