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Milford Haven: Aerial photography shows extent of oil pollution incident

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AERIAL photos have been released by the Port Authority of what Valero Oil Refinery is saying is a 2,200 gallon leak of heavy fuel oil into Milford Haven.

The Port said: “Aerial photographs used to inform the ongoing oil pollution response, showing a light sheen that is dispersing through natural processes as confirmed by this morning’s MCA aircraft surveillance
Members of the public have been commenting on the social media about the incident.

Danielle Hall commented: “Why has this leak happened? Are the pipes not maintained properly.
What will the effects be on the environment, wildlife, the beaches keeping blue flag status? The tourist industry? The fines Valero have paid in the past are so small compared to their profits. How can this be justified? The impact on local communities is not considered either.”

MCA spotter plane: Used to survey pollution from air (Pic: File)

Andy Drumm asked on The Port of Milford Haven’s Facebook page: “The saltmarshes are not the only sensitive environment. What about aquatic ecosystems? Who will assess the damage? Who will pay to compensate the negative impact and the cost of the clean up? And who will be held accountable for this disaster?”
The Port responded: “As indicated by Natural Resource Wales in the above, a full investigation is underway and the findings of this will be shared once concluded.

A Port press release states: “A multi-agency response is continuing at the Port of Milford Haven following an oil pollution incident at the Valero Pembroke Refinery.
Valero have today estimated that up to 7.5-10m³ of heavy fuel oil had leaked overnight on 2/3rd January from a pipe connecting the jetty to the refinery but that by first light the leak had been contained.

“As soon as the incident was reported, just after midnight, we instigated our well-rehearsed oil pollution plan in which we (Milford Haven Port Authority) have delegated command for the on-water clean-up of oil. Multiple agencies including Natural Resources Wales, Pembrokeshire County Council, Maritime Coastguard Agency and Valero have been working with us since early hours on 3rd January to survey, clean-up and put in place measures to protect the environment and wildlife.

Milford Haven: Oil clearly visible in the water (Pic: MHPA)

“The MCA are supporting the incident response through the loan of equipment to supplement our own assets. The MCA are using their contracted surveillance and verification aircraft and the images provided by this equipment have assisted the teams to locate any surface oil, its direction of travel and dispersal. The Port’s pollution vessel ‘Sea Sweep’ has patrolled and collected some surface oil; however most of the oil has naturally dispersed and the MCA report from this morning’s flight has confirmed this.
Mid and West Wales Fire Service has also assisted with the loan of drone equipment.

“Booming is in place at Sandy Haven and teams are deploying booms around the Gann estuary near Dale, today.

“Currently there have been sightings of oil on shore at Dale and Musselwick Bay. A clean-up operation is underway and agencies will continue to monitor the surrounding shoreline over the coming days.”

Andrea Winterton, Operations Manager from Natural Resources Wales said: “Our priority continues to be to reduce the impact of the oil on the local environment. We have officers positioned in key locations across the Milford Haven Waterway surveying for signs of pollution washing onshore.

“The booms installed yesterday and this morning will remain in place until we are confident that the risk to wildlife and the sensitive saltmarshes has passed.

“A full investigation is underway into how the oil entered the estuary and the findings of this will be shared once concluded.”

Members of the public are asked to be aware, avoid any beached oil if they discover it (particularly if they have dogs) and contact the Natural Resources Wales incident hotline on 03000 653000 if they become aware of any pollution on shore or see any birds they believe may be showing signs of oil.

Sandy Haven: Work men arrived to deploy boom across creek on Thursday

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Police officer was assaulted on Christmas Day

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A 25-YEAR-OLD woman from Haverfordwest appeared before the town’s magistrates on Tuesday (Jan 15) to face a charge of assault by beating against a police officer.

Tiffany Rowlands, of West Court, pleaded guilty to assaulting PC Gareth Potter on Christmas Day.

Prosecutor, Sian Vaughan said: “The officer was at the defendant’s property searching the childrens’ bedrooms.

“Rowlands pushed the officer to the chest, and after she calmed down apologised following the incident.”

Defence solicitor, Mark Layton, said: “There’s no record of any injury. They were upstairs, the lights were off so it was dark, and she realises it was wholly inappropriate.”

Magistrates fined Rowlands £40 for the offence and ordered her to pay £85 prosecution costs and £30 victim surcharge.

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Milford Haven: Booms to be removed following oil spill

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BOOMS installed earlier this month to contain an oil spill in the Milford Haven waterway will be removed tomorrow (Jan 17).

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and partner agencies have continued to survey the affected areas since the incident on 3 January and are satisfied that they have contained as much oil as possible.

Where oil has been found on local beaches, Valero’s clean up team have removed it under advice of NRW officers.

The investigation into how this incident, and the previous oil spill in December 2018, happened is ongoing.

Following further assessments and an inspection of the affected fuel pipelines, Valero now believe that no more than 500 litres of oil was released during the incident on 3 January – significantly less than originally feared.

But the pipelines will remain closed after NRW took action last week to suspend their use. NRW will not allow Valero to reopen the pipelines until it is satisfied they can operate without causing further damage to the local environment.

Andrea Winterton, Operations Manager from Natural Resources Wales, said: “Following a swift response from everyone involved, much of the pollution has been contained and cleaned up quickly, reducing the impact it could have had on wildlife and the environment.

“Along with our partners, we will continue to monitor the situation and will respond to any further reports of oil washing ashore in the coming weeks.

“Valero continue to support our efforts and cooperate with our enquiries into how the incidents happened. Our investigation also continues as we consider what further action we need to take to stop this happening again.”

NRW is asking people who live in the area to report any signs of pollution to their 24/7 incident hotline on 03000 65 3000.

The multi-agency response to this incident has involved the following organisations: NRW, Pembrokeshire County Council, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Milford Haven Port Authority, Marine and Coastguard Agency, Public Health Wales, Food Standards Agency.

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Fishguard: Sex offender caught trying to flee to Ireland

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A sex offender from Bow Street near Aberystwyth who tried to move to Ireland without telling anyone has been jailed.

Dennis Bull, aged 67, was caught trying to drive a van onto the Fishguard–Rosslare ferry with his belongings in the back ready for a new life in the Republic.

Bull, of Nirmit, admitted failing to comply with the conditions of registration as a sex offender and was jailed for 16 months.

Dyfed Thomas, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court it was the third time he had breached the order, imposed at Caernarfon crown court in February, 2016, for possessing indecent images of children.

That conviction was on top of earlier offending in New Zealand that included indecent exposure, outraging public decency and gross indecency with a child.

Mr Thomas said Bull had been jailed for 16 months in 2016 and ordered to register with the police. The restrictions imposed included a requirement to tell the police if he intended to change address.

On November 13 last year police at Fishguard harbour became aware of a Ford Mondeo registered to Bull.

A few minutes later Bull was arrested as he attempted to drive a van onto the Stenna ferry, which was loaded with household items.

Bull told the police he had made arrangements to move to Ireland “lock, stock and barrel” because he understood the monitoring of sex offenders was less strict.

In particular, said Mr Thomas, Bull did not like prospective employers being told about his convictions.

Judge Geraint Walters told Bull, “This was a planned and determined attempt to avoid detection. It was only the eagle eyes of the authorities that brought you to book.

“Your record is troubling and you present a risk of committing more offences of a sexual nature.

 “You are defiant of court orders that are there to protect others and it is truly disturbing that you are so keen to breach them.”

Bull was warned that the 2016 order remained in place for a further seven years.

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