I can say that I do support the plant for the jobs it provides. One of my regrets is that the original Plans and permissions were based on a large number of downstream processes such as plastics and even component manufacturers. These never happened and instead the product is shipped out to Europe via tankers at Braefoot Terminal and pipeline to Liverpool and the triangulated grid to the SE. So, plastics companies in the Ruhr and England get the benefit of value added jobs while we get minimum economic benefit but all the reek and noise!
However we are where we are and the Plant has been refurbed for another 30 years production. It’s worth noting that I doubt very much whether the Plant would have been granted permission in today’s democratic structures like the Scottish Parliament. At that time the Labour Secretary of State had the powers of a Colonial Governor but in fairness, growing the economy was then a priority where the ends justified the means.
I have been skeptical about two issues which are always used to rebut the concerns of Lochgelly folk about cancer clusters and pollution monitoring.
(a) The Cameron Hospital statistical evidence shows no sign of a cancer cluster. However as I understand it the sample geographical area is larger than the town and of course the wider the area the “noise” of the larger sample will hide the true position apropos Lochgelly. Perhaps there is no cancer cluster but we will never assure locals unless we have a specific study done in the town itself.
(b) I took issue with the methodology and instrumentation when the temporary monitors were set up. There are two points worth making….the timbase of the filter paper method used is long. I am not sure if it’s a month or a quarter or a year but the fact is it will not detect short term bursts of pollution. It will integrate any pollution into an average and surprise surprise….it is below the guidelines for P10 and P2.5 particulates, Benzene etc. But we all know that the flaring often occurs over short times, often at night. These peak bursts might well have hidden and deleterious effects on the body. The other issue is wind speed and direction. Obviously if the wind is blowing towards Lochgelly the pollution will be higher. But without wind speed and direction data tied to time the data is useless.
I have called for a proper, real time permanent monitor station up near McKenzie Cres, for a long time. I raised it once again at Cowdenbeath Area Committee a couple of months ago and was happy to acknowledge that our representative on the safety Committee, Cllr Peter Lockhart was to bring both of the issues up at the following safety meeting.
In conclusion, the plant is here to stay for our lifetimes…..it provides jobs and training…..let’s do all we can to ensure the residents of Lochgelly and it’s environs are safe.