Scotland’s Bat Signal


From around Fife and across the Forth you can see it. It’s Mossmorran, Scotland’s very own Bat Signal in reverse. While the Scottish Government is doing great work on climate change, very often basic environmental / pollution issues seem out of control. If Scotland’s Bat Signal to SEPA isn’t working, what’s going on?

On the day it was announced that concentrations of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere surged to a record high in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) – last year’s increase was 50% higher than the average of the past 10 years and researchers say CO2 levels are at a state “not seen in 800,000 years” – a beacon in the sky told us to sit down and keep quiet.

Last October Rod Edwards revealed ‘Revealed: Scotland’s worst corporate carbon polluters’:

“The third highest emitter was ExxonMobil’s ethylene plant at Mossmorran in Fife. Its carbon emissions have risen for the last four years to reach 885,580 tonnes in 2016, the highest for at least 14 years. On Friday ExxonMobil disclosed that the plant had suffered an unspecified “upset” and was being shut down. This would result in the burning of waste gas in flares for 48 hours, it warned.”

That was last year, so someone’s stepped in and enforced regulation, right?

No, it just carries on and on.

As the Fife Times reports yesterday: “Four days of flaring at Mossmorran has seen MSP Annabelle Ewing contact the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. Ms Ewing MSP, Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Cowdenbeath constituency, has written to Terry A’Hearn, Chief Executive of SEPA, regarding the recent flaring incident at ExxonMobil’s Fife Ethylene Plant.

Speaking on Monday Ms Ewing said: “I have received a number of communications from constituents regarding the flaring at the ExxonMobil plant which began early on Friday evening and I have no doubt that their hotline will have been ringing off the hook.”

Flaring began on Friday afternoon following an “instrumentation issue” with the plants refrigeration syste, according to the operators.

Mossmorran process manager Craig McCafferty said: “We apologise to the local community for the continued flaring” adding: “Safety and environmental protection continue to be our highest priorities, and all relevant authorities are being kept fully informed.”

The company issued the following press release yesterday:


This is a massive public failure of environmental justice. It’s a failure of corporate accountability, it’s failure of local democracy, it’s a failure of public health. It’s a failure of the regularity bodies (SEPA) which are both toothless and useless. It’s a failure of Fife politicians and a it’s a failure of national government. For background see ‘Mossmorran: 29 Years of Inaction.’

But unlike almost every example of uncontrolled corporate malpractice and environmental contamination – the difference with this is that EVERYONE CAN SEE IT.



Mid Scotland and Fife’s Green MSP Mark Ruskell accused ExxonMobil of causing misery for Fife communities.

He said: “This latest incident once again shows the contempt the operators hold neighbouring communities who have flooded me with complaints. It’s time for the Scottish Government and Sepa to take serious enforcement action to ensure that the wellbeing of those living in the shadow of Mossmorran is given greater priority than ExxonMobil’s shareholders.”

Exxon Mobil sponsors the Cowdenbeath and the Burntisland annual gala days with a small donation.

Mossmorran is the third-largest source of greenhouse gases in the UK’s chemicals sector and was forced to pay the biggest fine for an environmental offence in British history for failing to report greenhouse gas emissions from its plant in 2012. Scotland. This was a £2.8 million fine by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency for neglecting to account for 33,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from its ethylene plant.

This is pennies to Exxon and the daily reality of life around Mossmorran is a disgrace.

One local resident, Michelle Jarrett from Cowdenbeath told us:

“I am within a few miles of the plant and this is the worst I have personally experienced health wise. I considered leaving my house over the last few days and staying elsewhere. Myself, my kids are others have all been experiencing the same symptoms. Pressure headaches, breathing and throat problems and my house had smells and tastes like smoke. Not to mention light and noise pollution. Worst part is there seems to be no help for our communities out there. I am part of a action group committee and we are trying our very best to help our communities voices being heard. We need our national politicians to step up – they are the ones that have the power to change things.”

Follow the resident led action group @MossFlare for updates.



Comments (10)

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  1. Walter Hamilton says:

    You can not blame the SNP government for every decision that has been made since the dawn of time, or expect them to close down the Scottish economy overnight. Yes we need change but Rome was not built in a day.

    1. The SNP have been in government for a decade.
      Environment is devolved.
      Mossmorran is a disgrace.
      What bit of the actual case being discussed are you challenging?

      1. Walter Hamilton says:

        So let’s close down Grangemouth, Mossmorrn, scrap all aircraft, trains, buses, boats, and go back to handcarts, we will all live longer breathing fresh air, get real Ed.

  2. William Low says:

    Fines are of little use in controlling corporations such as Exxon etc. Remember that quite a number of years ago, BP at Grangemouth had repeated “incidents” which finally ceased when a judge indicated that the next breach of HASAWA would result in custodial sentences being handed out. We need to lock-up one or two of the senior managers at Exxon in order to get a resolution of this problem. Well at least it would be a start


  3. Graham King says:

    William Low – Hear, hear! While executives can keep going home to their comfortable houses and any money for fines is coming from the company coffers, they are insulated from real accountability for their actions. Some jail time might get the message across.

  4. David Allan says:

    You read it here folks not on MSM National News. (as far as I know) On the ball Bella.

    And goodluck to the residents action group if ” power ” were in local communities hands Scotland would be a more vibrant and proactive Country.

    Again exposing our continued over reliance on many inactive Politicians to identify and tackle and expose such issues .

    MP’s and MSP’s of all parties are guilty of inactivity on local matters effecting their communities.

    I see the lethargic culprits every week at FWQ’s.

  5. Mathew says:

    ‘not seen in 800,000 years’
    The BBC give that figure too. But Guardian Environment says the last time CO2 levels were this high was 3-5 million years. Not sure why the huge discrepancy?

    1. Mathew says:

      Graphs seem to show CO2 concentrations very steady and below 500ppm for the past 20 milion years. In the last 5 million years there are several peaks over 400ppm the last being 800,000 yrs ago. As the article above suggest it’s not just the concentration levels that are the danger, it’s the rate of change.

  6. George Gunn says:

    The CEO of Exxon-Mobil is the Sec State of USA. The gods of justice should lock him up before he locks us all in to a gas chamber.

  7. Graham Ennis says:

    Ok. the flaring off of the gas produces carbon/soot/and toxic chemicals. they are carcinogenic. The burn plume is going to produce a fall out of toxins, that will be absorbed by the local population. I speak as a scientist. In 10-20 years, there will be a local cancer epidemic. The disgrace is that Scottish Government have no Science ministry, or minister, no proper scientific advice, and no interest in obtaining any. I gave up my SNP membership when i realized that behind the rhetoric there was no will to act on these issues. Limited eco measures, token reforestation, and no legislation to control disasters like this. I despair.

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