Residents were faced with disrupted sleep after Mossmorran unexpectedly flared in the early hours of Monday morning which painted the skies red.
In the small hours of Monday morning around 1am, some residents were abruptly woken by the Mossmorran petrochemical plant after an unknown emergency at the plant forced the operators to begin flaring.
The flaring process does not appear to be routine as no prior notification has been given to communities surrounding the petrochemical processing plant, Mossmorran.
Chemical Engineer Prateek Kumar, a former Process Design engineer with Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) working on Shell licensed technologies including Hydrocarbon-processing explains:
“The tower that has a constant burning flame is called a Flare Stack. In very simple terms, it is just like the burner of a gas stove with a controlled burning of natural gas though its pilot burners. It is the last line of safety/defence for refineries, petrochemical and gas processing plants. Whenever there is an upset or an emergency situation, all the extremely flammable hydrocarbons need to be vented out. But these cannot be just put in the atmosphere like the steam from our food pressure cookers. A vapor cloud would be extremely hazardous and catastrophic. To ensure that these escaping gases get burned to Carbon dioxide and water vapor, a flame is always kept burning on the top. It is a necessary evil (waste of gas).”
Despite the flaring a necessary process to keep local communities safe, residents are required to tolerate excessive light and noise pollution which can impact negatively on their health and well being.
Noise pollution has been directly linked with a range of negative impacts including stress related illnesses, high blood pressure, speech interference and hearing loss.
Light pollution disrupts the circadian rhythm (our biological clock), disrupting this process creates an increased risk for cancers including breast cancers.
With excessive flaring continuing non-stop today as of 2:30pm, operators of the Mossmorran Petrochemical plant have still to provide any update to local communities.
Details of the initial emergency that triggered the flaring event are unknown and no information has been provided for the expected duration of the flaring process.
The steps that the plant operators will undertake to ensure communities are adequately compensated for the risk to local health and well-being is also unknown.