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Refinery could be out of action for weeks, costing Valero millions

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THE FALLOUT from Friday’s disruption to the national electricity supply across many parts of the UK will be serious for Pembrokeshire’s oil refinery.

Pembroke Refinery – owned by Valero – can refine up to 220,000 barrels of oil per day.

Along with 900,000 other electricity users in the UK, it suffered a complete power failure on August 9.

A source close to the plant told The Herald that screens in the control room went blank and refinery operators were forced to shut down manually.

During the incident there were large flare offs at the site and black smoke could be seen from the stacks.

There was a strong smell of oil in the air reported by nearby residents.

Despite Valero’s official spokesperson saying on Friday that the company did not comment on operational matters, another source told this newspaper that the power outage had knocked the fluid catalytic cracker offline, and that it would likely take a number of weeks for the refinery to get back to normal operations.

Our source said: “This is going to cost Valero millions of pounds. Everyone is very tight lipped at the present time, but I expect that there will be a big meeting on Monday – I understand that there are colleagues flying in from Texas.

“With the refinery out of action some ships may be forced to leave Milford Haven without any cargo.”

Our source told us: “I know that there is at least one ship waiting, on berth three I think, to load up with alkylate, but with the cracker down this won’t be happening.”

In 2017 a power outage and resulting smoke at a Valero Energy Corp refinery forced residents to remain indoors for several hours in Benicia, California. According to local news media reports at the time, black smoke from the refinery, also caused traffic to back up on Interstate 680 and forced evacuations from the industrial park where the plant is located. Orders to remain indoors and evacuate the industrial park had been lifted by noon. Two people were treated for respiratory distress.

Electrical disruptions and power failures at refineries often cause immense damage in terms of lost production, excessive repair costs, environmental impact and safety concerns. Electrical power is the lifeblood of the refinery and plant operation. An individual incident can run losses into millions of dollars a day. In 2012, the Phillips 66 refinery in New Jersey was down for 23 days. They estimated the lost revenue was over $650 million US Dollars.
The Government says it plans to launch an investigation into the major power cut. The blackout also brought travel chaos to the rail network and affected the power supply to Newcastle Airport and Ipswich Hospital.

Power had to be restored to more than 900,000 customers after what National Grid Electricity System Operator said was the almost simultaneous loss of two large generators.

Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said Friday’s power outage had caused “enormous disruption”.
She added: “National Grid must urgently review and report to Ofgem.
“I will also be commissioning the Government’s Energy Emergencies Executive Committee to consider the incident.”

The committee will look at whether National Grid, which manages the electricity supply system, stuck to its processes and procedures and if these were fit-for-purpose.

It will also examine if there were technical performance issues in the country’s power system, the efficiency of communications around the incident and how power demand was restored.

National Grid said it would seek to “understand the lessons learned” from the incident, while energy regulator Ofgem called for an “urgent detailed report” on what went wrong.
Duncan Burt, operations director at National Grid, said the power cut was an “incredibly rare event”, but back-up systems had “worked well” in response.

He explained that automatic processes triggered by the loss of the two generators had temporarily disconnected electrical demand across the country to “help keep the rest of the system safe”.

Valero have been contacted for a further comment.

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Simon’s Hart to Hart with Pembroke constituent

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SIMON HART has got into a heated doorstep discussion with a Pembroke pensioner whilst canvasing for next week’s general election.

Michael Hart, 70, who is no relation to Simon Hart, contacted The Herald at lunchtime today (5 December) to say that he had been in a heated discussion with the Tory incumbent, who was out door-knocking on his street.

The argument was sparked by the swastika saga – as exclusively reported in last week’s Herald – in which Simon Hart REFUSES to account for the appearance of offensive Nazi graffiti on one of his election placards, two years after it was taken down from public display.

Simon Hart photographed the placard in question in 2017 – at which point the only evidence of graffiti it bore was written text. But he posted a new photograph of the same placard to kickstart his re-election campaign last month, in which two swastikas are visible where none appeared before.

The MP is still refusing to give any public explanation, and has threatened legal action against those speculating over what he says is “demonstrably untrue.”
Since being reported by his favourite local weekly, Michael Hart tells us that he noticed how Simon Hart was still keeping quiet on the swastikas’ appearance – despite being approached by journalists reporting on the matter for the Independent, Daily Mirror, iNews and Western Mail titles.

Earlier this week WalesOnline reported that, when approached, Simon Hart failed to offer “an explanation as to how the swastika signs ended up on the election board, or who might be responsible”, but he told them: “Any suggestion that I had anything to do with this is malicious, false and defamatory and lawyers have been instructed”.

Michael Hart tells the Herald that he became aware Simon Hart was out campaigning on Kingsbridge Drive at lunchtime, when the candidate’s poster landed on his doormat.

The retiree says that the swastika issue led to the disagreement – in which words were exchanged and threats of legal action were inferred made towards him by the government minister.

Michael Hart, a retired teacher and mechanical engineer, said that he tackled Simon Hart to explain how the swastikas came about. He says his prodding produced what he calls a “tentative explanation” from the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire incumbent, which he finds “hard to believe”.

“I opened my door and went out to the drive, and politely said I did not want the poster. A few moments later, Simon Hart came up the road and onto my drive.

“I complained to him about two things – the Conservatives’ illegal proroguing of Parliament, and all that I’ve read about his publishing of the photo on his Facebook page of his defaced election board with the swastikas on.

“When I asked him about the signs, he got agitated, angry, and threatened me with legal action, and said he would pursue anybody who made out that he had anything to do with it”.

“On pushing him further, he told me how he thinks they got there. He says when his signs were in storage in a shed, that the shed was broken into, and a large number of placards including the swastika placard were ‘damaged or defaced’ for a second time!

“It really is quite some theory – and if it is true now, then it was true last week when the issue was first exposed. So why didn’t he mention this before now, when the Herald and other papers started asking him questions, or why didn’t he contact the police?

“Why was it when he put the poster on Facebook did he not then explain how the swastikas got there?

“I’m not sure why but he was recording our conversation on his phone. At the end of the visit no one from Mr Hart’s party would accept the poster back – so I threw it in the road and then it was picked up.”

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Jeremy Corbyn 100% confirmed to visit Pembrokeshire this weekend

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LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn will be visiting Pembrokeshire this weekend to shore up support for Labour candidates in the area.

Although the exact itinerary has not yet been confirmed, Labour HQ in Cardiff has confirmed to The Pembrokeshire Herald that Mr Corbyn will definitely be in attendance.

Mr Corbyn will be keen to rally votes for Philippa Thompson, who is standing in the Preseli Pembrokeshire seat – the second most marginal in the UK.

At the 2017 election she lost to Stephen Crabb by just 314 votes.

An email sent out to Labour members states: “Jeremy Corbyn will be in Haverfordwest to talk about how we win a better society, and we hope you can join him.

“This election is a once in a generation chance for us. Together we can reverse a decade of austerity. Take power from the billionaires, the bad bosses and the big polluters and give it to workers, young people, communities and everyone the Tories have failed for so long.

“We’re coming together to make our voices heard in Haverfordwest this weekend. This is about getting together, being inspired, and making a difference in the final week.”

The exact location will be sent out to those who register to attend, the email ads. The indoor rally is expected to start at 5.30pm.

Corbyn’s supporters said they hope that their leader will also attend an outdoor rally taking place in Haverfordwest town centre, at a location to be confirmed, the same afternoon.

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Haverfordwest boy caught taking drugs by officers thirty miles away

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A TEENAGE boy was arrested in Haverfordwest last week, after he was caught smoking cannabis on CCTV cameras which are monitored in Carmarthen (on Nov 28).

As part of the ongoing effort to crack down on anti-social behaviour in the town centre, known as Operation Spitfire, Haverfordwest Inspector, Reuben Palin, was at police headquarters, where the cameras are monitored, when he spotted the boy on-screen.

He saw a group of teenagers known to police, and the camera operator was able to zoom in for a closer look at their activities. After a call to local officers, they quickly arrived at the scene. The group was searched and one of the youths was arrested for possessing the class B drug.

Insp. Palin said: “We’re doing all we can to address community concerns about anti-social behaviour in Haverfordwest, and this includes putting the town’s new CCTV system to best use.

“Seeing the capability of the cameras in live-time has shown that CCTV is not just useful when an incident has occurred, but can also help us monitor what’s happening in town, and will hopefully deter bad behaviour.

“Obviously this can’t replace good old fashioned foot patrols, and we have a plan that sees CCTV complementing a visible police presence.”

The teenage boy arrested on suspicion of possessing the small amount of cannabis admitted the offence, and will be dealt with by the Youth Offending Team to ensure he gets support for his drug use.

He continued: “We are also working with other agencies, in particular the council, which has recently opened a drop-in centre for young people at No 2 Old Bridge, with the aim of offering a wide range of activities and opportunities that reflect their interests.

“While we have a strategy to minimise anti-social behaviour in this area, we would like to remind parents that the actions of their children are not the responsibility of the police. We urge you to be aware of what your children are doing, and where they are spending their time.

“No one should have to put up with anti-social behaviour and I would encourage the community to contact Haverfordwest Police to report any issues or concerns.”

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