Residents in 'direct action' at Mossmorran

Residents gathered at the Mossmorran petrochemical plant in Fife to call for a Scottish Government inquiry into the health impacts of the site on surrounding communities.

The flaring at Mossmorran earlier this month which led to more than 700 complaints to Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) Pic: Margaret Paterson
The flaring at Mossmorran earlier this month which led to more than 700 complaints to Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) Pic: Margaret Paterson

Around 50 people reportedly protested outside the ExxonMobil Chemical Fife Ethylene Plant near Cowdenbeath today (Saturday).

The “spontaneous” protest followed a similar demonstration last week and was attended by residents, members of the Mossmorran Action Group, five Fife councillors and Alex Rowley, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife.

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More than 700 complaints were made earlier this month about flaring at the site, which occurs when unprocessed gas is burned off as a safety measure.

Protestors gather at the Mossmorran petrochemical plant today. PIC: Contributed.

The flaring lasted from the early hours of Sunday, October 4 until the afternoon of Tuesday, October 6 and caused light and sound disturbance in surrounding homes.

Mr Rowley MSP posted on Twitter : “The communities around the Mossmorran chemical plant want to know if it is safe, it keeps breaking causing flaring and fear. The Scottish Government must seek and give the answers on safety. If it is not safe then it must shut. We need answers.”

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56 hours ‘of hell’ at Mossmorran

Operator ExxonMobil indicated a compressor fault was to blame for the recent flaring, which could be seen in Edinburgh.

SNP MSP for Cowdenbeath Annabelle Ewing, then said the situation had been “56 hours of hell” for residents with the flaring carried out with a “blatant disregard” for locals.

Ms Sturgeon said the concerns of residents were “entirely legitimate”.

In May, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) referred ExxonMobil Chemical Limited to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in relation to flaring.

James Glen, chair of Mossmorran Action Group, said: "This demonstration was spontaneously mobilised by residents after last week's protest and despite the poor weather and Covid restrictions the number of protestors increased. They believe direct action is the only way the Scottish government will listen to their demands.

He added: “The Scottish Government insists the plant is safe but the action of regulators, over 740 complaints to SEPA over the latest flaring and the 440 reports on the Mossmorran Action Group's Social Impacts Map suggest otherwise.

“The Scottish Government has refused to meet members of the affected communities. It has refused to commission an independent study into the environmental, social and health impacts of the plant and it won't even talk about finding a Just Transition for its future.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “The concerns of the local community in relation to flaring incidents are well understood by government and regulators and the clear focus must be on the actions the operators take to deliver the additional requirements imposed by SEPA in August 2019.

“SEPA, as independent regulator, concluded its investigation into unplanned flaring at the Mossmorran complex in April last year and submitted a report to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. We are clear that due process must be followed and it would be inappropriate for Ministers to comment while the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service considers SEPA’s report.

“Given the current action underway, it is not clear what an independent inquiry would add at this time, but this will be kept under review.”

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