EXXONMobil has strongly defended its offer to local schools to give children the opportunity learn about nature at the special pond near the plant.

Fife Council and the Kinghorn Ecology Centre have come under fire from the Mossmorran Action Group for working with ExxonMobil to involve children in what MAG describe as 'onsite PR initiatives at the Fife Ethylene Plant, Mossmorran'.

James Glen from the Mossmorran Action Group said at the weekend: “According to HSE, access to the site is strictly controlled.

"This rule does not appear to apply for local primary school children who are being ferried to the plant for “pond-dipping”, which is in reality a shameless PR exercise by ExxonMobil.

"Fife Council documents warn of many potential emergency scenarios at Mossmorran including Vapour Cloud Explosions, Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapour Cloud Explosions, major fires with high levels of thermal radiation, asphyxiation, and the formation of large toxic clouds.

"It beggars belief that parents aren’t fully informed of all the potential major accidents and risks facing their children when they attend these workshops at what is potentially very dangerous site.

"A number of parents have withdrawn their children from the trips, and some have contacted to say they won’t allow any future trips. ExxonMobil refused point blank to come to a public meeting to hear about how their recent emergency flaring caused our children terrified, sleepless nights, yet they want us to send our children to their plant and pretend everything is green and lovely".

He added: "Fife Council recently condemned Mossmorran for the unacceptable impacts of flaring on local people and called for compensation from the operators. Yet it is happy to collude with ExxonMobil and see Fife schoolchildren exploited in its risky PR stunts.

"If ExxonMobil really cared about the environment, our children, and local education, they would hold workshops at the well-loved but under-used Gelly Loch, Lumphinans Pond, or the Meedies. This would provide a much safer environment for children and would encourage much-needed investment into neglected local amenities.”

FEP's Stuart Neill explained that the plant has provided these opportunities for 30 years. The External Affairs Manager said: “We have quietly supported the education of local pupils for more than 30 years, including over 20,000 who have enjoyed visits to our environmental pond during that time.

"Indeed, many of those pupils have gone on to undertake apprenticeships and enjoy successful careers here at the plant.

“We are proud to have helped so many to explore science and nature, and would be disappointed to see others deprived of that opportunity.

“Our facility operates to the highest international safety standards, and we are open to meeting to discuss those facts with interested parties.”