SEPA has to come to port town now

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I have called on industrial firms in Grangemouth to “up their game” following the release of data by Scotland’s environmental watchdog SEPA.

The details highlight incidents in the Port of Grangemouth, where three of the largest operators have had incidences of “poor” or “very poor” performance on pollution.

SEPA, Ineos, Syngenta and BP in Grangemouth have all breached the SEPA guidelines according to the report, with Ineos classed as poor because of a “significant breach” of its pollution permit which caused “a prolonged offensive odour from the site affecting a wide area” in December 2015.

BP’s oil terminal at Kinneil had “prolonged flaring and noise complaints” due to “breakdowns and process upsets”, while Syngenta’s agrichemical plant had “extensive drain defects”.

In recent weeks Grangemouth residents have been enduring offensive odours coming from the Calachem plant in Earls Road.

These revelations have prompted me to reiterate calls for a permanent SEPA presence in Grangemouth, with a dedicated office and an officer available to deal with incidents as and when they occur.

Grangemouth Community Council has also been calling for such a move for some time, urging all elected politicians to work together to ensure SEPA give serious consideration to their request.

I have arranged a meeting in early December between Grangemouth Community Councillors and senior directors from SEPA to discuss the proposal of a dedicated officer and premises in Grangemouth.

While it has to be acknowledged our local petrochemical and agri-chemical firms conform to the environmental compliance guidelines most of the time, there are the occasional breaches of pollution limits.

That said, one breach is one too many, so all the firms in Grangemouth which have failed to comply with SEPA’s strict pollution limits must expect stricter enforcement action.

To put it simply, they must up their game.

Recent breaches by Calachem involving offensive odours, which are not contained in the SEPA report, have resulted in Grangemouth residents fast losing patience with the chemical industries which surround the town.

SEPA do not have a permanent presence in Grangemouth and currently SEPA officers have to travel from Stirling to investigate any non-compliance issues in Grangemouth.

A recent attempt to provide SEPA with office accommodation in Falkirk Council premises in Grangemouth proved to be less than ideal, so I’m calling on SEPA to look at the issue again.