There is six areas of concern raised within our communities regarding impacts from the Mossmorran facilities; Air, Ground and Water contamination, Vibration, Noise and Light pollution. Often local concerns are dismissed by the plant operators and representative bodies. When an incident occurs, the impacts from the incident is examined in isolation from other events throughout the year. What does not appear to be taken into consideration is the long-term cumulative impacts from repeated incidents over a 32 year time-period. What is the long-term cumulative impact from disturbing the sleep of children for days and sometimes weeks on ends, intermittently throughout the year? No-one knows because there has been a systematic failure to address concerns of our communities and a failure to conduct definitive robust research to fully quantify short-term and long-term cumulative impacts.
The lack of any robust and definitive research, coupled with representatives from public bodies accepting corporate hospitality from ExxonMobil on a regular basis, has led to a breakdown of trust between communities and the groups tasked with representing and addressing local concerns.
There is no Air Quality monitoring being conducted for the Mossmorran facilities by Fife Council or SEPA. Instead the regulator SEPA rely on ExxonMobil and Shell to make calculations and estimates on their emission rates for the year. These calculations and estimates are then checked by SEPA and if SEPA agrees with the calculations and estimates the annual figures are then published publicly via the SEPA website.
This method fails to give public confidence in the process. Without real-time monitoring there is no way of knowing if an incident has breached air quality guidelines on any given day. Averaging out numbers over a period of a year does not provide an accurate record of day-to-day air quality impacts and is very misleading.
ExxonMobil claim publicly that there is 'no significant impact' on local air quality. This is also the conclusion of the 'Mossmorran and Braefoot Bay Independent Air Quality Monitoring Review Group', a committee of representatives from Fife Council, SEPA, NHS Fife, Shell and ExxonMobil, chaired by Professor Sibbett.
The main conclusion is derived from air quality monitoring commissioned by the plant operators through the National Physical Laboratory between 21st August and 1st October, 2008. The monitoring was conducted during a period of planned maintenance and flaring. The obvious flaw in this assessment is that flaring and emission levels can be tightly controlled by the plant operator.
In 2013, as part of the conditions attached to Little Raith Wind Farm after concerns that the turbulence generated from the wind turbine blades would disperse pollutants more locally in higher concentrations, the wind farm operator; Kennedy Renewables, was legally required to conduct air quality monitoring.
Kennedy Renewables commissioned the National Physical Laboratory who employed passive diffusion tubes to monitor air quality. These sampling tubes collect samples over a 2 week period and then sent to a laboratory for analysis, results are averaged out for the for the monitoring period. The report concludes that there is no increase in pollutants during the monitoring period, yet worryingly, state that Benzene did increase and exceed legally allowed emission levels over a 2 week period. The source unknown.
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According to a recent Carbon Study report, 100 companies are responsible for 71% of Greenhouse gases produced globally, with ExxonMobil the 5th largest emitter, and Shell the 9th largest emitter of greenhouses gases. To claim 'no significant impact' appears dubious at best.
Studies commissioned by ExxonMobil were initially flawed for monitoring during planned flaring periods where the emission levels can be controlled by the operators. The Kennedy Renewables monitoring was also flawed in that using passive diffusion tubes cannot give accurate real-time data, and where there appeared to be an issue, the source was unknown. The issue can be addressed fairly easy: Time-based Air Quality monitoring. This method will give an accurate air quality assessment, 24/7 and will give SEPA the tools needed to better scrutinise the emission levels from the Fife NGL and Fife Ethylene plants.
On a daily basis, noise is generated from the Mossmorran facilities, often described as a 'low rumble'. The noise issues connected to the plant are complex due to the local bypass (A92) and Little Raith Wind Farm generating unwanted noise, including infrasound and low-frequency noise. Topography can also play a factor in how residents perceive 'annoyance' from a source of noise.
A study conducted by SEPA to examine the Environmental Noise within a property located in Lochgelly, discovered that during the 22 daytime monitoring period, World Health Organisation guidelines on daytime noise levels were breached on 19 occasions. During 21 night-time monitoring period, WHO guidelines were breached on 11 occasions. Tonal noise and low frequency noise was recorded which included several breaches to DEFRA's guidelines on low frequency noise.
In 2016, we arranged for SEPA to have access to three households in the Lochgelly and Auchtertool area to conduct indoor noise monitoring during a planned flaring event at Mossmorran. The flaring persisted for 3 weeks. SEPA did not conduct this monitoring. Instead SEPA conducted their own investigation with the results still to be provided to our volunteers, although volunteers have had verbal responses from SEPA regarding the data collected. We will continue to pursue a copy of the data collected including the methodology employed by SEPA to conduct their tests.
Vibration in the home has been a persistent problem for residents. Due to topography, vibration impacts on some residents more than others. Areas in Cowdenbeath and Lochgelly report vibration in their homes from ground flares. During flaring events through the main flue stack, vibration impacts a much wider area.
In 2006, work by the Lochgelly Regeneration Forum raised this issue successfully and were promised that the problem is being addressed by the Mossmorran & Braefoot Bay Independent Air Quality Monitoring Group. 11 years later, the problem has failed to be addressed by the Air Quality Monitoring Group.
What impact does this vibration have on a developing fetus in the womb? How does this vibration impact on the sleep patterns and development of a child? What are the health implications from vibration and sleep disturbances of an adult? These issues have never been addressed in the local communities forced to suffer from these negative impacts.