‘Tonight’s flare one of worst ever’ - More elevated flaring at Mossmorran chemical plant in Fife on Monday night with 380 complaints made in two days

Pictures have emerged tonight showing more elevated flaring at the Mossmorran chemical plant, with 380 complaints received by Sepa in the last two days.

Monday, 5th October 2020, 8:44 pm
Updated Monday, 5th October 2020, 9:31 pm

It comes the day after an investigation was launched into whether permit conditions have been breached at the ExxonMobil Chemical Fife Ethylene Plant.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) first received reports of elevated flaring at the Mossmorran site around 3:30am on Sunday.

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ExxonMobil said previously that there was an “isolated technical issue” with one of its machines, apologising for the disturbance and stressing the use of the flare is “completely safe.”

On Monday, plant manager Jacob McAlister issued a community update to say they had replaced a faulty part on a compressor and are “working round the clock” to restart the machine as soon as possible, which could mean seeing some “fluctuations in the elevated flare” - but he said they would take steps to minimise this.

Chris Dailly, Sepa’s head of environmental performance, said that while limited, controlled flaring is an authorised and important safety feature of industrial sites, it has been happening “too often” at Mossmorran and is impacting the community.

Sepa has already referred ExxonMobil Chemical Limited to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service relating to flaring last year.

Several pictures of the flaring above Mossmorran tonight have been shared on social media, with the bright orange glow visible for miles across Fife, Edinburgh and the Lothians.

The flaring above Mossmorran chemical plant in Fife. Pic: Ash Alay/ Elaine Green
The flaring above Mossmorran chemical plant in Fife. Pic: Ash Alay/ Elaine Green

And drivers were slowing down on the Queensferry Crossing to watch it.

Complaints

Mark Ruskell MSP, for Mid-Scotland and Fife (Scottish Greens), published a tweet on Monday which said there were 360 complaints about the flaring over the weekend.

Sepa has since confirmed that figure has risen to 380 complaints, with a spike this evening and that number expected to increase overnight as the flaring continues.

Flaring at Mossmorran tonight. Pic: Elaine Green

Scottish Conservative MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife, Liz Smith, also tweeted: “Tonight’s Mossmorran flare is one of the worst ever. Utterly unacceptable that the residents should have to put up with this ongoing saga night after night.”

One tweeter said: “Mossmordor is at it again!”

Another said: “Looks more like Hiroshima than Cowdenbeath. Flaring at Mossmorran… unreal.”

From Edinburgh tonight.