Residents' anger over more Mossmorran flaring

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Media caption,

The flaring was clearly visible from Cowdenbeath

More unplanned flaring is being carried out at the Mossmorran petrochemical plant in Fife after a problem with a major compressor at the site.

The environmental watchdog Sepa was alerted by site operator ExxonMobil just before 15:00.

Residents, who have repeatedly complained about flaring incidents, said flames were visible from Edinburgh and as far away as Dundee.

The site was closed for five months from last August after it suffered two boiler explosions.

ExxonMobil said it was "progressing with the steps required to re-start the machine" but could not say when that would happen.

Image source, @Donna196652
Image source, Nathan Sparling

A company statement said: "To keep the rest of the plant running and reduce total duration of flaring, we safely manage this process through the use of our elevated flare.

"We are taking actions to reduce the size of the flare during this work, including maximising the use of ground flares.

"We apologise for any inconvenience to our local communities."

Image caption,
Exxonmobil's ethylene plant at Mossmorran was shut down for five months last August

Local campaigners said ExxonMobil's response to the latest incident "explained nothing".

Linda Holt, of the Mossmorran Action Group said, "Once again ExxonMobil is forced to resort to emergency flaring because something has gone badly wrong.

"As the ground shakes, and a huge bright flame amid clouds of black smoke looms over communities, they are expected to suffer in ignorance.

"Reassurances that the plant is 'safe' do not wash."

Sepa said initial reports suggested elevated flaring may continue overnight.

Chris Dailly, Sepa's head of environmental performance, said: "Having been clear that flaring must become the exception rather than routine, we're disappointed that (it) has occurred again so soon after the restart.

"We expect the company to provide timely updates to the community."

ExxonMobil shares the Mossmorran site with Shell's Fife Natural Gas Liquids plant.

In February, about 200 workers at the site staged an unofficial walkout over safety, working conditions and pay.