The editorial on Mossmorran (Courier – 14/7/17) wrongly stated that air quality in the surrounding area is constantly monitored. With such a hazardous and unpredictable facility, one might expect such monitoring to be standard, but that is not the case. ExxonMobil and Shell present SEPA with annual figures for their emission levels based on their own measurements, calculations and estimates. Instead of time-based air quality monitoring data, figures for emissions are averaged out so that spikes in emissions as occur during flaring do not show up.
It’s a bit like average speed cameras where drivers can drive at dangerous speeds but remain undetected so long as they slow down for long enough. It’s also like trusting someone to fill in their own tax return without seeing their bank statements.
The ExxonMobil spokesman defends the corporate largesse the company showers on politicians, regulators and others as entirely above board. Yet like many companies, including Shell, Exxon is chary of allowing its employees to accept similar largesse – employees may not receive gifts or hospitality exceeding £30. It’s obvious why Exxon would benefit from such a double standard. But if the public is to trust politicians and regulators, they need to adhere to the highest standards of propriety and refuse all gifts.
It isn’t only children who have nightmares associating Mossmorran’s emergency flaring with the Grenfell Towers disaster. There’s a common lack of transparency, accountability and trust in decision-making and regulation. Community engagement is a charade of vague assurances where residents’ valid concerns are ignored or dismissed. And it’s no coincidence that those who have to bear the anxiety, health impacts and risk to their lives that Mossmorran’s continued operation threatens live in some of our most deprived communities.