The results of an investigation into prolonged flaring at Mossmorran are expected to be announced before the end of the year.
That’s according to the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and Health and Safety Executive (HSE), whose representatives attend the Mossmorran Communities Working Group.
Lesley Laird MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath said: “While there have been no major incidents of late, communities were plagued by a series of prolonged flaring episodes at Mossmorran over the past year.
“We still don’t know why that was the case.
“There are still open lines of enquiry, but representatives from SEPA/HSE were able to tell us that the joint investigation is expected to conclude in November.
“The findings, including any interventions required, will then be available on HSE’s website within 30 days.”
She added: “I’m glad a date has been announced because the regularity of these episodes was unacceptable and communities surrounding Mossmorran deserve answers.
”We also need to know how this can be prevented from happening again in future.”
The cross-party, cross-community group, which is co-chaired by Lesley Laird MP and Prof. Wilson Sibbett, heard during a recent meeting that Mossmorran processes 50 per cent of Scotland’s energy.
The 222km-long St Fergus pipeline, which supplies ethylene to the site and provides 15 per cent of Scotland’s gas supply, cannot be shut down automatically.
Hence the reason why flaring – which is an essential safety mechanism – can carry on for days during an incident.
Representatives from plant operators Shell and ExxonMobil said £225m had been invested in the plant in 2010 to ensure it was “fit for another 50 years” and that the plant’s reputation and safety record was of paramount importance.
At the working group’s previous meeting, held before the summer holidays, SEPA’s chief executive Terry A’Hearn spoke directly with community representatives and made a clear commitment to halt unplanned flaring.
Variations to Mossmorran’s permit were imposed by SEPA to include legally binding conditions requiring the plant to take preventative measure now against noise and vibration.
In addition, ExxonMobil and Shell revealed it was in the early stages of commissioning a review of the plant in light of best available techniques, which is expected to take up to a year to complete.
Lesley said: “We established this group to bring pressure to bear on Mossmorran and I think, by having the right people around a table, we are succeeding in that.
“At our most recent meeting progress was made in determining steps in a plan to ensure better monitoring of air quality, noise and vibration.
“We’ve still got a long way to go yet on this and other issues before communities will be satisfied their concerns have been properly addressed.
“But, thanks to the ongoing commitment of all members of the group, I think we’re on the right road.”