Lochgelly residents have called for action amid claims of unacceptable noise levels from daily plant operations and recent flaring at Mossmorran.
Community campaigner James Glen has urged the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to monitor the situation at the Fife petrochemical plant after a recent investigation suggested noise levels in the area had been regularly breached.
That probe found that World Health Organisation guidelines for community noise had been breached 19 times out of 22 during the day, and 11 out of 21 times for night-time noise levels.
Several breaches were also noted against Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) guidelines for the assessment of low frequency noise.
While SEPA’s report acknowledged excessive noise levels, it could not determine whether the nearby Little Raith wind farm, the A92 road or the Mossmorran complex was ultimately responsible.
Mr Glen, who met with SEPA officials at an affected property in Lochgelly expressed concern it has been dragging its feet over dealing with the noise.
“SEPA have known since 2014 that residents are faced with regular exposure to elevated sound levels after conducting continuous monitoring from a property in Lochgelly for 22 days,” he explained.
“The recent planned and unplanned flaring exacerbates the noise problems residents face.
“Regular exposure to noise like this can cause hearing impairment, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, annoyance and sleep disturbance, yet very little has been done for over a quarter of a century to protect residents from this public nuisance.
“We know people in Lochgelly are being exposed to excessive noise but SEPA has been powerless to act because it doesn’t know who the culprit is.”
Mossmorran suffered a “process upset” on September 14 before a planned shutdown which started on Friday, with residents warned there will be flaring during a three-week closure.
Mr Glen said the planned shutdown presents SEPA with a “golden opportunity” to conduct in-depth noise monitoring to establish the plant’s contribution to the overall noise impact in the area.
“It is a no-brainer for the noise monitoring to take place during the planned shutdown of Mossmorran,” he said.
“Residents have come forward to assist SEPA and I hope SEPA will grasp this opportunity.”
Flaring happens to burn off gas that cannot be processed safely due to the volumes involved or being off specification.
This might be due to scheduled maintenance requiring the plant to be “gas free” prior to entry, or following an unplanned operational interruption.
A spokesperson from SEPA said: “We are aware that a number of concerns have been raised by local residents following recent flaring at the petrochemical facility near Mossmorran.
“We take these concerns very seriously and a number of meetings have been arranged with complainants to understand their individual experiences with excessive noise.
“SEPA will be in the local area over the coming weeks to allow the noise levels to be assessed which will help to identify if any further noise monitoring requires to be carried out.”
SEPA officers have also encouraged affected residents to contact its pollution hotline on 0800 807060.