FLAMES and thick black smoke pouring from chimneys at ESSO’s Long Island Point fractionation plant at Hastings followed a plant malfunction on Monday 21 September.
Plant manager David McCord said the flaring was a safety mechanism designed to ensure “pressure relief” in the event of an emergency.
Mr McCord said similar flaring events could occur anytime and were usually of “short duration”.
Hastings-based photographer Celia Furt said the permanent gas flames roared even higher during the flaring and produced large clouds of black smoke.
“It was quite impressive and lasted 10-20 minutes,” she said. “After that the permanent gas flames were brought back under control.”
The discharge of thick smoke coincided with the Long Island plant’s 50th anniversary.
The plant was opened in 1970 by Prime Minister John Gorton while Victorian Premier Henry Bolte enthused about the Western Port region becoming the “Ruhr of Victoria”.
The plant, employs 140 people, handles LPG, crude oil, propane, butane and mercaptan.