Flaring at Mossmorran complex, Fife

  22 April 2019

Everyday SEPA works to protect and enhance Scotland’s environment and, in addition to other public agencies, is jointly responsible for the regulation of ExxonMobil Chemical Limited and Shell UK Limited at the Mossmorran complex in Fife.

On Easter Sunday, 21 April 2019, SEPA responded to complaints of unplanned flaring at the Exxonmobil Chemical Ltd facility, Mossmorran.

Whilst flaring is an important safety mechanism and is permitted through permit conditions, SEPA has deployed a full regulatory and scientific response coordinated by its CEO, Terry A’Hearn. The response includes air quality and noise monitoring which will inform SEPA’s understanding of the nature of the flaring event and its impact on local communities.

Air quality monitoring, in line with ongoing air quality assessment activity, continues to show no cause for concern and SEPA will continue its operational response over the duration of the incident.

Information will be made available as quickly as possible from our dedicated online hub, www.sepa.org.uk/mossmorran.

SEPA is clear that environmental compliance is non-negotiable and in April last year, issued Final Warning Letters to both ExxonMobil Chemical Ltd and Shell UK Limited. Following an intensive investigation by SEPA, it was found that whilst flaring is an important safety feature in the event of a process fault the flaring was found to be “preventable and unacceptable”.

Permit conditions for operators at the Mossmorran complex were tightened. This included the requirement to complete an evaluation of the Best Available Techniques (BAT) to prevent and, where that is not practicable, reduce emissions of noise, vibration and smoke associated with flaring. The outcome of the BAT assessment is an essential part of understanding of what can be done to stop unacceptable and preventable impacts of flaring and is required to be completed for the end of this month.

SEPA has continued to drive forward changes in approach by undertaking air quality monitoring in the vicinity of the Mossmorran Complex, with a fixed point to the North East of the complex and diffusion tubes in community locations. Information is being shared with the Independent Air Quality Review Group (including community representatives), Fife Council, NHS Fife and Health Protection Scotland.

We maintain a dedicated hub of information, www.sepa.org.uk/mossmorran, proactively share information with the community through newsletters and are members of the Mossmorran Communities Working Group, Mossmorran and Braefoot Bay Community Safety Liaison Committee and Mossmorran and Braefoot Bay Independent Air Quality Review Group.