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Ineos has apologised to Central Belt residents after a ‘process upset’ led to hours of flaring at Grangemouth on Thursday evening.
Prolonged flaring at the refinery on the River Forth lit up the night sky for several hours and was clearly visible from central Edinburgh around 25 miles away – as shown in an image posted by Twitter user Julia Bouvy.
Seen tonight from the top of Blackford Hill in Edinburgh. Looks like grangemouth direction. #fire possibly #grangemouth #blaze #scotland #fireandrescue. Hope everything is ok? pic.twitter.com/tN0J7RkyLo
— Julia Bouvy (@BouvyJulia) December 1, 2022
In a statement issued 1am Friday, Ineos apologised to residents and said it was managing a “process upset” at one of its production plants at the site which began at around 9pm the day before.
Nearby residents – who are typically aware of flaring operations around Grangemouth – branded the evening “extreme” and questioned the operator over what was going on.
— ✨C✨ (@CD0355) December 1, 2022
Grangemouth giving it what for tonight pic.twitter.com/eP3qILsn02
— Andy Willo (@Birchscrub) December 2, 2022
Indeed, concerns were so high that the Scottish Fire and Rescue service was forced to issue a statement, noting it had received a “high volume of calls reporting an orange glow” near the plant and reassuring nearby residents that it was aware and was not required to be in attendance.
Others posted video showing they could hear noise from the operation inside their houses.
What is happening at Grangemouth? I can hear it from inside. pic.twitter.com/8ET2Vnv6Rk
— Rab (@rabross_) December 1, 2022
In a statement issued at 1am Friday, Ineos said it was managing a “process upset” at one of its production plants at the Grangemouth site which began on Thursday evening. The response resulted in a period of “controlled elevated flaring” to reduce the inventory of gas in the plant, which it said was “industry standard” in the circumstances.
Ineos confirmed the incident was unrelated to recommissioning work on a piece of plant earlier on Thursday, which the group said would result in some short spells of steam venting during the day.
In a separate statement later on Friday morning, the petrochemicals giant added: “We apologise to our local community for any inconvenience caused as a consequence of flaring at our site overnight (1st December).”
“We are very much aware of the effect this has on our local community and our teams worked hard overnight to reduce the level and duration of the flaring, including making use of the ground flare.”
At the time, it confirmed it was in the process of re-establishing manufacturing at the plant and had rectified the issue.
However, Ineos said it would need to continue to flare through Friday and into Saturday as the plant is brought back on line.
“We will do our utmost to do this in a manner that maintains safety and also in consideration of those who live and work nearby,” it added, and urged residents to check its Twitter account for updates on noise and flaring.
The incident follows vows by supermajor Shell to introduce technology to remove the need for elevated flaring at its Mossmorran natural gas liquids (NGL) plant in nearby Fife.
The move will mean flaring is carried out closer to ground level, potentially alleviating some of the light pollution high in the sky – described by some as the “Mordor effect” – though local residents remain concerned about the effects of pollution.