Call for prosecution over releases at chemical works

It comes after an investigation by the UK's safety watchdog was submitted last month.

Call for prosecution over releases at chemical works Google 2020

A formal report has been submitted to the Crown Office following an investigation into breaches of regulations at the Mossmorran chemical works in Fife.

It comes after an investigation by the UK’s safety watchdog, the Health and Safety Executive, submitted its report into the ExxonMobil site to the COPFS last month.

The investigation specifically relates to hydrocarbon releases, which were uncovered by inspectors during a routine inspection in Spring 2019.

Principal Inspector of Health and Safety Greg Haywood confirmed that a formal report has been submitted.

He said: “Thorough enquiries have been made into this issue and a formal report has been submitted to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. We are unable to comment further at this time.”

A spokesperson for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: “The Procurator Fiscal has received a report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE ) in connection with alleged incidents in Mossmorran, Fife between 6 July, 2017 and 4 July 2019. 

“The report is currently under consideration by the Crown’s Health and Safety Investigations Unit (HSIU).”

HSE list adverse health effects associated with a single exposure to hydrocarbons as asphyxiation, narcosis (ie depression of the central nervous system; anaesthesia) and cardiac arrest.

The report follows a similar report submitted by Sepa in July 2020 calling for prosecution in relation to flaring at the Mossmorran complex during April 2019

A spokesman for ExxonMobil said: “We were fully aware of, and were actively working solutions to, these matters. We cooperated constructively with the HSE, and these matters have since been fully resolved.

“Fife Ethylene Plant works within the highest regulatory standards, is committed to its environmental responsibilities and complies with all applicable laws.

‘’We operate to the very highest safety and risk management practices, and work closely with the HSE in full compliance with their approved processes. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”

Scottish Greens environment spokesman Mark Ruskell has called on newly appointed cabinet secretary for net zero Michael Matheson to take urgent action over the Fife plant.

He said: “Not only have the people of Cowdenbeath and Lochgelly been subject to the most appalling light and sound pollution, their toxic neighbour has also been emitting dangerous hydrocarbons too.

“This is the second time in less than a year that a statutory body has recommended ExxonMobil face prosecution for their clear disregard for environmental and safety standards at Mossmorran, and it raises serious doubts about the operator’s commitment to even the most basic compliance issues.

“With that in mind, it’s clear they cannot be left to their own devices when it comes to tackling the climate emergency.

“This plant remains Scotland’s third biggest industrial emitter, and we can no longer trust Exxon and Shell to come up with their own plans for decarbonisation if we are to have any chance of meeting our goal of net-zero by 2045.

“The new Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Michael Matheson, needs to address Mossmorran as a matter of urgency, and show leadership on this crucial issue.

“Decarbonisation within the next decade must be a condition of allowing the plant to continue operating.”

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