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Mossmorran chemical plant shut down until November

02 September 2019

ExxonMobil’s Mossmorran chemical plant in Fife, Scotland has been shut down until at least November after its temporary closure on August 12. The plant’s manager, Jacob McAlister, said that the extension of the temporary closure is to make the plant “more reliable” and that it will reopen "at some point during the fourth quarter of the year".

The Mossmorran flare - Image: Richard Webb /
The Mossmorran flare - Image: Richard Webb /

The closure of the Mossmorran plant came on August 12 to allow operators to investigate boiler failures. ExxonMobil Chemical initially made the decision to close the ethylene plant when two of the site’s three boilers broke down.

Jacob McAlister added: "This move gives us the extra time to thoroughly understand and address the mechanical issues with our boilers, while also undertaking a programme of wider preventative work that will further improve reliability when we re-start the plant. This temporary shut-down has a significant commercial and operational impact for our company, but it underlines our commitment to ensuring safe and reliable operations."

The plant, jointly operated by ExxonMobil and Shell, has been criticised on numerous occasions for excessive flaring.

The Mossmorran Action Group, a resident-led campaign group seeking redress from the negative impacts from the operations at Mossmorran, believes that the extension to the shutdown means there must have been a “catastrophic failure” at the plant. 

James Glen, chairman of the Mossmorran Action Group, said: "If Exxon is being shut down for so long, there has obviously been a catastrophic failure at the plant. Emergency shutdowns and major repairs should not be necessary if a plant is being maintained to the highest standards.” 

According to the BBC, environmental regulator Sepa recently announced that it had received almost 1,400 complaints about the Mossmorran site. Both ExxonMobile and Shell had their permits varied and were told to install flare tips that reduce noise.

In May, the Mossmorran chemical plant was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after it was discovered that ethane had been leaking from damaged pipes for a “number of weeks”.

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