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A SAFETY watchdog is seeking a prosecution after an investigation into hydrocarbon releases at Exxonmobil’s Mossmorran plant.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has confirmed that a report has been formally submitted to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
The move comes after hydrocarbon releases were uncovered during a routine inspection back in Spring 2019.
HSE Principal Inspector of Health and Safety Greg Haywood said: “Thorough enquiries have been made into this issue and a formal report has been submitted to the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service.
“We are unable to comment further at this time.”
An ExxonMobil spokesman said the issue hadn’t affected local residents.
“We were fully aware of, and were actively working solutions to these localised matters, which had no impact on the community. We cooperated constructively with the HSE, and these matters have since been fully resolved,” he said.
“Fife Ethylene Plant has no outstanding HSE Improvement Notices.
“We work within strict regulatory standards, is committed to its environmental responsibilities and complies with all applicable laws. In over 35 years of safe operations, we have never experienced a major incident that has impacted upon the wider community.
“We operate to the very highest safety and risk management practices, and work closely with the HSE in full compliance with their approved processes.
“It would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”
Local MSP Annabelle Ewing called into question the length of time taken for the investigation to be carried out.
“If ExxonMobil has endangered public health or the environment then it is absolutely right that this should be pursued through the Crown Office,” she said.
“I am concerned about the length of time it has taken to come to this stage, so I have written to HSE seeking an explanation for that and, whilst I note that ExxonMobil stated that the issue has been resolved, I want to know what steps HSE has taken to ensure that this is indeed the case.
“Public confidence in ExxonMobil’s management of its operation at Mossmorran is very low indeed.
“I know that there is a substantial amount of work underway at the moment but the company has a big job on its hands to persuade nearby communities that the problems that have beset the facility are at an end.”
Mid Scotland and Fife Greens MSP Mark Ruskell has said the investigation showed an “urgent need” for government intervention.
He has called on Secretary for Net Zero, Michael Matheson, to take urgent action over the Fife plant
“Not only have the people of Cowdenbeath and Lochgelly been subject to the most appalling light and sound pollution, their toxic neighbour has also been emitting dangerous hydrocarbons too,” he said.
“This is the second time in less than a year that a statutory body has recommended ExxonMobil face prosecution for their clear disregard for environmental and safety standards at Mossmorran, and it raises serious doubts about the operator’s commitment to even the most basic compliance issues.
“With that in mind, it’s clear they cannot be left to their own devices when it comes to tackling the climate emergency.”