'Rumours have been circulating locally that the boilers exploded' - ExxonMobil Mossmorran explosions to be investigated

AN INVESTIGATION has launched into the 'boiler explosions' at ExxonMobil's Mossmorran plant in Fife.

Saturday, 12th October 2019, 2:26 pm
Updated Saturday, 12th October 2019, 3:26 pm
Mossmorran: Probe into boiler explosions at ExxonMobil plant

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is carrying out a probe into the incident which caused a complete plant shutdown in August.

It is understood the blasts happened on two separate occasions in two different boilers due to a critical build-up of pressure in the units.

One of the incidents is said to have happened at 7am and to have had a blast radius of 20 to 25 metres.

No-one was hurt in either episode and there were no flames.

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Yet Linda Holt, of the Mossmorran Action Group, said an HSE official had described the incidents as a “catastrophic breakdown”.

She said: “We were also told that neither HSE nor Exxon have so far identified the cause.

“Rumours have been circulating locally that the boilers exploded, and HSE’s confirmation makes a mockery of ExxonMobil’s communication strategy.

“For years local communities have lived with the fear of an accident at the plant; trying to hide explosions behind an announcement of £140m investment will only exacerbate local mistrust and fear.”

Stuart Neill, external affairs manager for ExxonMobil told the BBC: "We are concerned that comments have been made publicly on an ongoing regulatory investigation.

"It would be inappropriate for ExxonMobil to comment until the HSE's investigation, and our own, have been completed."

Lesley Laird MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath said: "Because of the investigation our discussion was limited in scope but it was clear these were very serious incidents and lines of enquiry are complex, particularly in terms of the sequencing of events.

"HSE confirmed no-one had been hurt in either boiler incident, both of which were caused by a critical build-up of pressure in the units."