Exxon Flaring Eyed in Scotland

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 @ 12:08 PM gHale

Flaring incidents at the Mossmorran facility that prompted complaints from residents are under investigation in Scotland.

A report about the flaring incidents at the Mossmorran ExxonMobil Fife Ethylene Plant in Scotland between June 12 and 20 that prompted a flood of complaints will not be made public.

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) is currently carrying out an investigation into just what happened at the Cowdenbeath, Fife, Scotland, facility between June 12 and 20. 

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“I understand that SEPA has a role in ensuring the current operating conditions are adhered to and as such have an ongoing relationship with ExxonMobil,” said Mid Scotland and Fife Member of Scottish Parliament Alex Rowley said in a published report. “I also understand that they have set up a separate investigation into the latest specific episode of flaring that has caused such widespread concerns across the area but it is disappointing that there will not be a detailed report published explaining what went wrong.”

There were two incidents in just over a week, with a “process upset” leading to extensive flaring – the burning of excess or waste gas – and residents complaining about the large flame, noise and vibrations from the site.

Exxon apologized when thick black smoke billowed from the plant, the result of a “temporary disruption to the feedstock process,” prompting NHS Fife (Scotland’s health care services) to call for action.

SEPA launched an investigation and this week advised Rowley that no formal report would be made public. 

He said the scope of the investigation was limited to whether any breaches of the operating permits under the ‘Pollution Prevention Control Regime’ had taken place.

Rowley wrote to Scottish Government ministers calling for an independent review of the workings, processes and current condition of the Fife Ethylene Plant.

“SEPA were very clear that if there has been breaches of the operating permits then they will take appropriate action but were equally clear that their remit does not extend to a wider investigation of the site,” Rowley said in the report. “So, this latest incident is being treated as a one-off situation.”

“SEPA were keen to stress to me that flaring will continue to take place when there is any breakdown on the site and that this is a safety measure,” he said in the report. 

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