THE latest incident of flaring at Mossmorran has been likened to “Dante’s Inferno” by a local councillor.

Site operators apologised to the public last Friday after an “operating upset” caused the Fife Ethylene Plant to flare until the early hours of Monday morning.

ExxonMobil have been criticised by local councillor Marry Lockhart, who said driving in the surrounding area was “like travelling through the hinterland of hell”.

She has also called for the decommissioning of the chemical plant.

Cllr Lockhart, said: “I have had enough of pussyfooting around what I really think about the flaring at Mossmorran.

“Enough is enough. ExxonMobil should have its operating licence revoked.

“The upper part of Lochgelly looked like a William Blake illustration to Dante’s Inferno.

“Altogether, it was like travelling through the hinterland of hell. Flames, smoke, and noise ... and vibrations which were rattling china in my house, six miles away as the crow flies.”

There were three cases of flaring at the site last year, with one in October and two incidents in June. One of the incidents last summer saw thick black plumes of smoke filling the air, prompting local communities and politicians to call for action.

Figures published by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) show that, between 2008 and 2016, there were 670 flaring incidents at the ExxonMobil plant. 

There were 26 cases in 2008 and the number increased to as many as 231 in 2013 before dropping down to 25 incidents in 2016. 

Next door, at Shell's Fife NGL plant, there has been a steady increase with 753 incidents in the same timeframe. 

There were 13 incidents in 2008 and there was a general rise, with 156 flaring events in 2016.  

ExxonMobil is to review the latest incident with the giant flame visible from miles away.

Sonia Bingham, plant manager at FEP, said: “I would like to apologise to the local community for the unplanned flaring over the past few days.

"My operations team at FEP has worked tirelessly over the weekend to restore normal operations to the plant and kept SEPA fully informed throughout the event.

“I know that flaring can cause concern and inconvenience but it is a vital safety system and we never flare without good reason.

“We have made every effort to minimise any impact on the local community and, while I recognise that it can be frustrating to local residents, I am grateful to them for their patience and understanding.”

A fresh call for a public health review was called for by Mid-Scotland and Fife Green MSP Mark Ruskell earlier this month.

He wants an investigation into the effect on local residents of flaring incidents from the plant.