Petrochemical companies ExxonMobil Chemical Ltd and Shell UK Limited have been served with final warning letters by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) following an enhanced unplanned flaring event at the Mossmorran complex in Fife, during June 2017 (see Current Note 51/2609).
In addition to Final Warning Letters, SEPA has commissioned a full review of the environmental permits to operate both sites, with a view to strengthening environmental compliance and reducing the impact of flaring on local communities. An enhanced programme of air quality monitoring has also been announced by the regulator, to inform relevant public agencies.
Following an intensive investigation by SEPA, which included formal statements from local residents, the regulator found that whilst flaring is an important safety feature in the event of a process fault, a series of maintenance failures led to elevated levels of unplanned flaring in breach of environmental controls between 12 and 18 June 2017, following the breakdown of a condensate pump.
SEPA found residents were subject to considerable disturbance in their homes from noise, vibration and black smoke over the seven-day period in summer 2017, during which a total of 74 complaints were received by the agency.