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Sepa investigates residents’ complaints over Mossmorran flaring

Fife’s Mossmorran petrochemical plant has been investigated again after people living nearby complained of overnight flaring.

Environmental watchdog Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) said it had received “a small number” of complaints from members of the public this week.

Some residents say they have been kept awake by a flare burning throughout the night at the site.

The plant.
Operators Exxonmobil and Shell reported operations at the Mossmorran plant to be “normal”, despite concerns raised by some residents.

Locals said problems began on Monday and have continued throughout successive nights since.

Sepa says there has been “no significant flaring” and blamed increased visibility on “light bouncing off steam”, despite video footage showing the flare lighting up the sky.

One Cowdenbeath resident, who asked not to be named, said she has contacted both Sepa and her local MSP to raise the issue.

She said: “I’ve been woken on successive nights this week to bright light coming from the flare at the nearby Mossmorran plant.

“As it’s light pollution, there’s no escape from it until daylight.

“There is a noise that comes from the flaring too.

“It’s so frustrating, as I’d say the issues with the plant have actually got worse rather than better, despite the money spent on the place.”

Complaints from residents

Another resident who has also lodged a complaint to Sepa said the light coming from the flame had woken him up on three occasions this week.

These latest concerns come after a £140m upgrade was completed at the facility in July 2021.

The work was triggered after numerous incidents of flaring and problems encountered at the plant over several years.

A view of the flaring back in March 2020, before the £140m upgrade.
A view of the flaring back in March 2020, before the £140m upgrade.

However, operators ExxonMobil and Shell told The Courier operations at the Fife Ethylene Plant have been “normal with no use of the elevated flare”.

Furthermore, Sepa confirmed that, following its investigation, it found no concerns raised by operations at the plant.

Operations ‘normal’

A spokesperson for Sepa said: “Sepa has received a small number of complaints from members of the public concerned about flaring at the Mossmorran site over the last few evenings.

“We have investigated and there has been no significant flaring from either operator, but recent changes in weather conditions and temperatures have increased the visibility of steam that is present as part of normal operations.

“Sepa officers have been on site regularly over the last few weeks as part of routine compliance work and have seen these conditions in person.”

‘Not unusual’

They added: “It is also not unusual for there to be a small, visible flame as part of the normal operation of the installations.

“This can become more visible when it is dark, and light bouncing off steam can make it appear larger than it is. This effect is enhanced during colder weather.

“Photographs submitted to Sepa confirm that this is what is being experienced.”

“Sepa added that ongoing enforcement work is in place to improve the reliability of the sites, reducing the requirement for flaring.

“That will significantly reduce the community impact of flaring when it does occur.

“No concerns about noise or vibrations have been raised with Sepa.

“Regulatory noise and air monitoring continues across local communities.”

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