The above video was captured on the 30th October 2012 between 7:00pm – 8:30pm after a full day of elevated flaring and high noise pollution levels. We decided to capture the incident after listening to the noise and watching the flare for most of the day.

Mossmorran Flaring viewed from South Street
Mossmorran Flaring viewed from South Street
For us, it started at around 8:30am with a low rumble in the home of one of our volunteers, but we have since heard from other residents that they were disturbed even earlier at around 7:00am, and the earliest at around 5:30am

The noise was certainly very loud at the top of the town and we noted that it could be heard throughout several areas in Lochgelly.

During the recent planned plant closure an upgrade was happening on the premises of the Fife Ethylene Plant which is operated by ExxonMobil, and part of the upgrades was to replace the Pressure Safety Valve springs, after one of the springs had been shattered to pieces in 2011.

Another part of the upgrade of the plant was to introduce a new flare tip on the elevated flare stack. The new flare tip is designed to reduce noise pollution during a flaring event, but it was evident yesterday that the new noise reduction technology, may not be that effective.

Due to the noise and flaring yesterday, which is still ongoing today with noise appearing to be at lower levels, two volunteers took a trek around the top of the town and wandered up to Little Raith Wind Farm.

The site of the Mossmorran complex is a very detrimental visual impact for some people, made worse by the flaring, and by the 9 x 410ft industrial wind turbines that dominate over the landscape and over the surrounding towns.

Mossmorran Flaring viewed from Bypass Bridge
Mossmorran Flaring viewed from Bypass Bridge
On the walk, it was a shock to see the shadow of the turbine blades being projected onto some households in the South Street area, due to the flare of Mossmorran. Wind Turbines are known to create shadow flicker, but there is now industry accepted standards to alleviate this problem. However there is no industry standards regarding shadow flicker in the evening, this is a completely unique phenomena to Little Raith Wind Farm.

It is also a concern that has been raised in the past by some commentators on this site, and it is now a concern that has been realised, which in the past two weeks, we have received two complaints from residents in the South Street area.

When the residents have their lights on, there is not an issue, but as soon as they have the lights switched off, the room goes light, dark, light, dark, etc. Usually a flaring event from Mossmorran causes light pollution, in the form of pulsating light in a room, but now an additional impact has been added for some residents.

Currently, there only appears to be one turbine creating the issue during a flaring event, and it was noted by both residents that it isn’t constant during flaring events, it is dependent on the direction that the turbine blades are facing.

Mossmorran Flaring viewed from Bypass Bridge
Mossmorran Flaring viewed from Bypass Bridge
Going back to the walk, we skipped over a couple of fields in front of the houses at South Street and across the motorway bridge. The pictures do not show how bright it actually is. Walking though fields, it was light enough to see where you were standing and pick your way through any bog and marsh ground without the aid of a torch. The ground is pulsating with the light pollution and you can make out your path very clearly.

The noise levels being emitted were very loud, but it also creates a vibration pulsating effect, you can literally feel the force of the sound resonate in your body, you also have noise pollution (as well as pollutants) being emitted from the nearby bypass. Residents have a mixture of busy traffic sounds mixed with the sound that can be closely associated of a large aircraft constantly overhead.

As we neared the Little Raith Wind Farm site, we caught the first audible noise of the closest wind turbine, which was roughly two fields away. The turbines were emitting the whoosh sound that is expected from a wind turbine, but there was also a high-pitched whine coming from what we suspect, the generator housed in the Nacelle.

Mossmorran Flaring viewed from Broken Bridge
Mossmorran Flaring viewed from Broken Bridge
This sounded like a commercial aircraft carrier about to take off, but not as loud. None of us have heard this sound leaking into the town (as yet), but it was loud at the Little Raith site, and with this site being furnished with all new equipment, both of us had a great concern that once the equipment starts to get out of alignment, needing greased, etc. the noise impacts may become louder, and be a source of noise pollution for the towns.

We went right up to the first turbine which is in direct line with the ruins at Little Raith, the noise from the Fife Ethylene Plant and the industrial wind turbines, was just incredible, it was a sonic assault coming from all directions. It also created a very dominating and scary atmosphere, and neither of the volunteers felt very safe from the turbines or the Fife Ethylene Plant.

Regarding safety, our towns have been a home to two developments at Mossmorran, where there is some concerns over plant safety by some of the residents. Mossmorran is split in half, with one half operated by ExxonMobil and the other half by Shell.

The ExxonMobil part of the plant emits air pollutants, creates noise and light pollution as well as vibrations, all of which has the potential to create subtle impacts on local health.

Both sites are regulated by SEPA (Scottish Environmental Protection Agency) on an ongoing basis. SEPA are an independent environmental protection agency, and anyone with any concerns regarding the Mossmorran complex should report them to SEPA on their pollution hotline – 0800 80 70 60 (24 hour service).

Mossmorran Flaring viewed from Little Raith Wind Farm
Mossmorran Flaring viewed from Little Raith Wind Farm
Now we have nine industrial wind turbines, with two more seeking consent near the roundabout at Mossmorran, another turbine seeking consent just behind Mossmorran, and another three turbines seeking planning permission a short step away from Little Raith Wind Farm towards Auchtertool. All of which have their own controversies surrounding the technology, which includes health and environmental impacts, as well as turbine safety issues.

Regarding the health issues, most of the health concerns have been identified through quantitative evidence from all over the world which lays the blame of poor health on the noise pollution from wind turbines, specifically infra-sound which is inaudible but still perceived by the human body. The Wind Energy Industry deny that there are health impacts.

Due to the unique location of Little Raith Wind Farm, next to the ExxonMobil plant, early research by the University of Glasgow has indicated that the air distribution patterns of the wind turbines, may interact with the pollutants dispersal from the flue stack, and has the potential to increase pollutants more locally and in higher concentrations.

ExxonMobil emit pollutants including Hydrocarbons, PM10 (Particulate Matter), and Benzene. The World Health Organisation (WHO) have stated ‘Benzene is carcinogenic to humans, and no safe level of exposure can be recommended‘. The American Petroleum Institute published a paper in 1948 and still maintains ‘that the safest level of exposure to benzene is no exposure‘.

Mossmorran Flaring viewed from Little Raith Wind Farm
Mossmorran Flaring viewed from Little Raith Wind Farm
Apart from the air quality concerns, there are existing safety concerns over the two highly sensitive and aging plants which have now had their operational lifetime extended. Industrial turbines are known to have technical failures, which include nacelle fires, ice throw and turbine blade failures.

There are measures to reduce Ice Throw through the heating of the turbine blades, but this is not 100% effective, however it should reduce the risk of ice throw. Likewise, turbine blades have been known to break off and be thrown over far distances, with the furthest turbine blade recorded at 1 mile (1.6km).

RenewableUK had admitted to the Daily Telegraph that in the past five years from 2011 there had been 1500 accidents and incidents with wind turbines in the UK alone. The group; Caithness Wind Farms, has catalogued only 9% of accident statistics from public data sources and has identified that in 2012, up to the 30th September, there has already been 26 blade failures reported in public. It is assumed that the real number of blade failures will be much higher.

Mossmorran Flaring viewed from Little Raith Wind Farm
Mossmorran Flaring viewed from Little Raith Wind Farm
Whether or not you support industrial wind turbines is irrelevant, there are plenty of other spaces available to build these wind farms. With all the controversies surrounding industrial wind, they should never have been built around two highly sensitive plants, where safety is of paramount importance to Shell and ExxonMobil and to the local communities.

We continued our walk in awed silence and fear amongst the towering giants, towards Dante’s Inferno blazing into the night sky, and got our first glimpse of Hell’s Barbecue, with only one concern on our minds, what considerations have been given to our communities?

The Shell part of the plant is identified as a Buncefield type site. The ExxonMobil plant is listed as a top tier COMAH (Control of Major Accident Hazards) site.
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8 Comments

  1. sross

    November 6, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    To answer your question regarding concern for the local communities I think the answer has to be none. Lochgelly seemed to be thriving again for a few years but lately it just seems that someone’s personal agenda rules and the town people themselves are forgotten about. Where have the days of community spirit gone, where Lochgelly was a thriving town. I for one feel the town has stalled, as we are taken over by businessmen with their agendas slowly eroding away Lochgelly’s heritage and spirit.

    Reply

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