Pressure is mounting on the Scottish Government to call for an urgent inquiry into the future of a Fife chemical plant, following recent breakdowns at the site.
Around 2,000 people concerned about the impact of ExxonMobil’s Mossmorran petrochemical complex near Cowdenbeath have used an online portal set up by the Scottish Greens to voice their anger about unplanned flaring incidents which have led to complaints about noise and light pollution, disturbed sleep and vibration to houses.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said it is working to address the root causes of the problems, although the same organisation issued a final warning to plant operators nearly two years ago.
Following the latest public backlash after the ‘process upset’ earlier this month which prompted renewed flaring at the site, Labour MSP Alex Rowley said a full investigation is needed to look at the plant’s condition, why it keeps breaking down and what the impact is on the health and wellbeing of the people living in surrounding communities.
He has also written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warning her not to play “cheap party politics with Mossmorran”, in response to Ms Sturgeon’s comments at Holyrood this week where she singled out an SNP member for raising issues.
“Your comment yesterday was your attempt to make cheap party political gain by trying to single out your own SNP member as having been at the vanguard of speaking up for these communities,” Mr Rowley said.
“I know that Sepa are due to publish the results of their ‘current criminal investigation into unplanned flaring’ soon at which point I hope you and your minsters will meet with myself, other politicians and the local action group to discuss the next steps.”
The call for an immediate inquiry has been backed by Scottish Greens environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell, who said he was not surprised so many people have written to environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham objecting to Mossmorran.
“The unplanned flaring at this fossil fuel relic has made life a misery for local residents,” he said.
“NHS Fife has also confirmed that the ongoing mismanagement of the plant has seriously impacted on their health and wellbeing.
“SEPA expressing ‘disappointment’ is not enough.
“The Scottish Government cannot continue to ignore those who are suffering as a result of this inaction.
“Roseanna Cunningham must finally heed the call for an urgent independent inquiry into the future of Exxonmobil in Mossmorran and immediate action to protect these local communities.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We appreciate the concerns of the local community with regards to the Mossmorran complex and we are clear that the frequency of unplanned flaring is unacceptable.
“The Scottish Government is continuing to monitor the situation closely through regular contact with regulators.”