Mossmorran set to flare again this winter

Flaring will occur when Fife Ethylene Plant restarts by December, Mossmorran Working group learned today (Friday).

ExxonMobil, working alongside SEPA to manage the start-up process, confirmed planned flaring would be publicised in advance to residents.

It would not be as severe as flaring witnessed in April, the company pledged.

The Kirkcaldy meeting, co-hosted by Lesley Laird MP and Prof Wilson Sibbett, also heard an HSE investigation into two boiler failures which caused a complete plant shutdown in August is still ongoing.

Lesley Laird said: “Because of the investigation our discussion was limited in scope but it was clear these were very serious incidents and lines of enquiry are complex, particularly in terms of the sequencing of events.

“HSE confirmed no-one had been hurt in either boiler incident, both of which were caused by a critical build-up of pressure in the units.

“ExxonMobil, which is also carrying out an additional in-house investigation, stressed the incidents were not ‘explosive’ in nature.

“We await HSE’s conclusions with interest.”

A key recommendation from the meeting was a root and branch review of the Mossmorran Safety Liaison Committee, after concerns were raised about its effectiveness in challenging practices at the site.

Fife Council is now charged with leading up this review and will be consulting with various community groups before reporting back in the New Year.

SEPA’s investigation into flaring at the plant in April is expected to conclude in November unless other lines of enquiry become open.

Lesley commented: “Generally speaking it has become apparent that closer scrutiny of operations at Mossmorran has resulted in maintenance schedules and routines being significantly invested in. 

“A new maintenance contractor has been appointed and additional staff employed to provide the focus and energy these activities require.

The MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath established Mossmorran Working Group with co-chair Prof. Wilson Sibbett from the University of St Andrews after receiving a flood of complaints from constituents in 2017.

It comprises the broadest cross-section of representatives from the community, including Mossmorran Action Group, ExxonMobil, Shell, elected officials, Fife Council, SEPA and HSE.

Mossmorran Working Group is expected to meet again in the New Year.