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Valero ordered to shut down two pipelines following oil spill

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NATURAL RESOURCES WALES (NRW) has issued an enforcement notice to suspend the use of two fuel pipelines on the Valero Refinery jetty in Milford Haven.

The notice was issued after pollution incidents affected water, land and wildlife along the coast in December and the first week of January.

It means that the two pipelines believed to be behind the pollution are shut down until NRW is satisfied that they can be used without threatening the environment.

A multi-agency response including clean-up work continues on the affected section of coastline following the most recent oil spill.

Valero and its contractors are working on cleaning the coastline at Milford Haven while NRW, Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority monitor and advise.

Since the initial report of pollution, efforts have focused on minimising the impact of the oil on the area and its wide range of wildlife.

The affected sites have continued to be cleaned and the oil from the leak has been contained.

Andrea Winterton, Operations Manager from Natural Resources Wales said: “Protecting Wales’ waters is a huge part of our job and we have acted to make sure that the estuary and its wildlife is protected.

“A quick, multi-agency response to this incident has helped reduce the impact of the oil spill in the area.

“Beach surveys continue and as a precautionary measure booms remain in place to protect the salt marshes around Sandy Haven and the Gann Estuary.

“Valero has already implemented additional measures to minimise any further impact and is co-operating as our investigations continue.

“We ask people to remain vigilant, avoid any oil if they discover it, particularly if they have dogs, and contact the NRW incident hotline on 03000 65 3000 if they become aware of any pollution.”

A spokesman from Valero said: “Following an enforcement notice by NRW to suspend the use of two fuel oil lines at Pembroke Refinery, Valero continues to assist the multi-agency response on the Haven. Valero’s other pipelines and infrastructure remain unaffected and operational capacity remains unaltered.

“In co-operation with Milford Haven Port Authority, NRW and Pembrokeshire County Council, booms were deployed and remain in place to protect sensitive locations and specialist personnel have been deployed to beaches to minimise impact.

“We are continuing to work with agencies to monitor and protect the environment. Valero’s top priority remains the safety and the well-being of our employees, contractors and communities at all times.”

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Health volunteers thanked for incredible support

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THERE’S no more fitting time than National Volunteering Week to say thank you to all of the volunteers within Hywel Dda University Health Board, management have said in a press release.

‘Volunteering for Health’ is the Hywel Dda UHB’s volunteer service and has covered the three counties of Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire for the past 11 years.

During this period, volunteers have carried out 376,000 hours of volunteering and in 2019 carried out 56,000 hours.

At the start of the year prior to COVID, 400 registered volunteers were providing a range of services to support patients and improve their experience whilst in hospitals, these include; library trolley service, shop trolley service, pharmacy runners, meet and greet, patient befrienders, gardeners and many other roles.

Lisa Gostling, Director of Workforce and OD said: “Volunteers are an integral part of our service and it’s hard to think that only seven months ago we celebrated the 10th anniversary of volunteering within Hywel Dda together at Bronwydd Hall.

“It’s important at this moment in time to recognise that some of our long standing volunteers can’t be with us and we look forward to welcoming you back to the organisation soon.

“And also to recognise those volunteers who have changed what they do to support our patients during these particularly difficult times.

“So I want to just say thank you. Thank you for your commitment, your generosity and your kindness. I look forward to seeing you all soon. Take care and stay safe.”

David Fretwell. Volunteering for Health Manager, added his thanks for the overwhelming response from volunteers old and new to an unprecedented situation: “This year has been unprecedented for the volunteer service with the onset of the COVID pandemic and has dramatically affected the way we have involved volunteers.

“We had an amazing response from the community wishing to help us through volunteering with over 600 offers of support.

“To help manage the numbers of people offering to help we set up a ‘Volunteer Pool’ and are extremely mindful where we can place volunteers for their safety.

“We have now deployed volunteers to support the health board’s transport department as drivers; we also have gardeners, virtual volunteers and drivers delivering food parcels from food banks to some of our most vulnerable patients in the community.

“We appreciate the fantastic support you have provided prior to COVID and through the pandemic. Thank you for your incredible support.”

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Inflatable kayak group rescued by the Coastguard

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A GROUP of people in an inflatable kayak had to be rescued by the Coastguard on Saturday (May 30) evening.

HM Coastguard Dale said they were “very lucky people”.

They had been exploring to the north of Skomer Island when they got caught in the tidal race of Jack Sound and ended up off Gateholm.

A passing Dale sailing vessel helped them to the Little and Broad Haven Lifeboat team before they were transferred to Angle RNLI to navigate Jack Sound.

The casualties were received by HM Coastguard Dale at Martin’s Haven and given safety advice.

The group had no lifejackets on and were not wearing wetsuits, despite the cold water.

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Hart defends a tweet police boss says is incorrect

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WELSH Secretary Simon Hart has defended a tweet accused of being incorrect by a chief constable.

The MP for South Pembrokeshire and West Carmarthenshire told The Herald that he had simply been quoting Dyfed-Powys Police Chief Constable Mark Collins when he said people in Wales were allowed to travel up to 15 miles to exercise.

Mr Collins later said people should not drive to take exercise.

Hart told MPs he was “quite surprised” to hear Mr Collins’ response.

Welsh Government guidelines on lockdown restrictions say “exercise should be undertaken locally – as close as possible to the home”.

They continue: “In general this should not involve people driving to a location away from home for this purpose.”

Last Friday Mr Hart tweeted: “Fascinating to hear from Wales’ four police chiefs today, and the commissioners too, especially on what’s permissible under lockdown.

“Consensus was that travelling 10-15 miles from home to fish, play golf, surf or exercise is fine – subject to all other distancing requirements”.

However responding to questions from MPs on Thursday, Mr Hart said “the reference to 10 to 15 miles to travel to play golf or fish was actually Chief Constable Mark Collins’ own words – not mine – and not disputed by anybody on that call”.

He told the Welsh Affairs Select Committee that he was “quite surprised” to then hear that the comment he tweeted was “interpreted as being incorrect”.

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