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Clean up follows train derailment, as police rule out foul play

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NATURAL RESOURCES WALES have been dealing with the diesel spilled as a result of the train derailment and fire in Carmarthenshire.

The work comes as British Transport Police said they did not suspect that criminality is a reason for the incident.

Ten wagons, each containing 75 tonnes of diesel, derailed and spilled oil into the Loughor Estuary near Llanelli in Carmarthenshire on Wednesday night (Aug 26).

The cargo train was travelling from an oil terminal in Milford Haven to Reading.

Undamaged wagons were being removed today (Photo D Harries/Herald)

STATEMENT FROM NRW

Work is continuing to recover the diesel from the derailed wagons and the spilled diesel. Trenches have been dug to intercept the diesel and vacuuming and skimming operations are taking place.

Monitoring of local watercourses continues, with booms and absorbent pads being used and regularly replaced to contain as much of the diesel as possible. These techniques are proved to be working well and are removing a considerable quantity of diesel from the water courses.

Network Rail is arranging for a crane to be delivered to the site on Monday evening (31 August) to start removing the wagons from Tuesday (1 September).

Monitoring teams continue to carry out daily surveys around the Loughor Estuary, including around the local fisheries and bathing water sites.

Please report sightings of oil pollution around the estuary to us by calling 03000 65 3000. If you come across any contaminated birds or animals, call RSPCA Cymru on 0300 1234 999.

Diesel is no longer confined to the upper reaches of the estuary (around the Loughor Bridge and upstream) and has been observed at many locations as far as Crofty.

The map shows the observed presence of diesel in the Loughor Estuary on 29 August 2020. The estuary is a very dynamic system influenced constantly by tide and wind, and will influence the movement of the diesel.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has also undertaken aerial surveys to aid the monitoring of the pollution.

The Environment Group set up in response to the incident will support and advise the response units on the identification and priorities for clean-up in the wider estuary.

Steps are being taken to prevent diesel entering waterways (Pic NRW)

CRIMINALITY NOT SUSPECTED

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Langley from British Transport Police said: “Thanks to the efforts of our officers and our colleagues from across the emergency services in making the scene safe at Llangennech, we have been able to conduct an initial investigation into this incident.

“Our initial findings are that the derailment is not believed to have been caused by criminal activity.

“We are therefore handing primacy of the scene to the Office of Rail and Road so that it can carry out its own specialist investigation.

“I would like to once again thank our officers for their efforts during this challenging incident, and I am grateful to all of our partners for their help and support in ensuring the safety of the local community.”

Ten carriages derailed, each containing 75,000 litres of diesel fuel. Three caught fire (Pic D Harries/Herald)

This map from Natural Resources Wales shows the extent of the pollution from the accident (Source: NRW handout)

FROM OUR PHOTOGRAPHER, DARREN HARRIES

On Sunday (Aug 30), we visited parts of the Loughor estuary to find the strong smell of fuel in the air and oil slicks in the rock pools and rivers, from the train incident further up the estuary in Llangennech.
The area around the bridges and car park by Loughor Boating Club and Loughor Inshore Rescue, and surrounding area smells so bad,
‘We had to leave from feeling ill and getting a headache from the diesel fumes.
This may have been down to the wind direction, but it was unpleasant and something to be aware of if visiting the area.
We also noticed that Swansea Council has acted quickly and placed information signs around the area of ‘Notice Of Temporary Closure Of Production Area, signs had be dated on the 27th August.
But a fishermen did attempt to fish, the fuel filled river, but he found it impossible as his line and tackle, including his rod were covered from diesel.
We did not see any information signs on Llanelli side, so it may have been the case of the angler not being aware of the hazard in the estuary, despite the overwhelming smell.
From visiting Llangennech the day after the train wreck and seeing the area of the derailment, I could smell the diesel in the marsh and the river, as it entered the estuary.
Today’s visit to Llangennech, we seen Network Rail were back at work and an Oil Spill Response Company, turn up including a Specialist Security company.
Things are starting to happen.
We did see a post over Facebook, someone had taken a photo of a dead bird in the area, thought to be down to the spill.
Residents in Machynys and other parts of Llanelli can also smell the fumes.
The local cockle beds are closed, putting the cocklers and shellfish gathering on hold, along with fishermen.
The environmental impact on the estuary is not yet known, It’s doubtful that this diesel spill will have no good outcome for our wildlife and fish including the winter visiting birds that use the Loughor estuary and the Llanelli Wetlands.

Community

Beach clean highlights tide of plastic pollution

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Preseli MP Stephen Crabb has praised the work of local volunteers after joining them for a beach clean in St Davids.

The clean at Porthlysgi Bay beach was organised jointly between environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy and EcoDewi as part of the Wales-wide Autumn Clean Cymru campaign, with over 15 volunteers litter picking while socially distancing.

EcoDewi is a new ecology and energy group on St David’s peninsula, working to increase the community’s capacity to produce its own, locally-owned sustainable energy.

Between Saturday’s beach clean and visitors piling litter in gateway, over 30 bags were collected. Rubbish included fishing wire, a steel toe cap shoe and plastic bottles, all of which will now be disposed of responsibly. While some litter is left behind on the beach by inconsiderate users, much of the rubbish now comes from the sea, as the tide washes in what has been thrown overboard by some sailing vessels.

Speaking following the clean, Stephen Crabb said: “Pembrokeshire’s beaches are some of the very best in the world, but litter remains a dangerous and unsightly problem. Beach cleans are a good way to protect and learn more about our natural environment and Saturday’s clean was a good example of many hands making light work.

“There have been positive steps by UK and Welsh Governments to reduce the volume of plastic pollution going into our waters, including a ban on microbeads, plastic straws and drink stirrers. But last weekend’s beach clean was a real eye opener and it is clear that more action is needed.

“My thanks to Keep Wales Tidy and EcoDewi for organising an excellent beach clean at one of Pembrokeshire’s hidden gem beaches. Anyone can volunteer for a beach clean and I look forward to taking part in another in the near future.”

Jeremy Wadia of EcoDewi said: “Community collaboration is key to fighting the current ecological and climate crisis, and it’s always great to see people coming together to clean our local beaches which benefits both our marine & land wildlife and of course residents and visitors. Seeing local and regional leaders out on the ground inspiring others to get involved is really important, so we are very grateful to Stephen for joining us at Porthlysgi.”

Mari Williams, Keep Wales Tidy Pembrokeshire officer said:

“It was a brilliant event and great to have so many people turn up to volunteer. We’re all responsible for the health of our oceans, that’s why clean-ups like this are so important and do make a real and lasting difference to our marine environment. Our campaign Autumn Clean Cymru was a chance for us to take a stand and declare that litter is not acceptable.”

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Man arrested at Penally Training Camp for arson and criminal damage

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A 29-YEAR-OLD man has been arrested on suspicion of arson and criminal damage at the Penally Training Camp.

Police and ambulances services attended the camp last night (Sept 30).

Police said that the man remains in police custody.

The Welsh Ambulance Service said: “We were called last night to reports of a patient needing medical attention at Penally Camp. We responded with one emergency ambulance and one person was transported to Withybush Hospital.”

It is unknown at this time is the man arrested was an asylum seeker or a local person.

He is the third person to be arrested in connection with the camp in recent days.

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Police probe into racist Facebook comments over Penally asylum seekers

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A NEIGHBOURING police force have confirmed that they are investigating grossly offensive comments on a Facebook group that suggest that asylum seekers staying at the MOD Training Camp in Penally should be gassed or shot.

Around 234 asylum seekers—Kurdish Iraqis and Kurdish Iranians—are set to be housed at the camp.

Many of the protesters are locals concerned about their communities after a lack of communication of the arrival of the asylum seekers by the home Office, but South Wales police believe that some of the protests outside the camp have been organised by far-right elements based in Swansea.

Two people have been arrested in connection with protests. One person released without charge, and another, – a well-known right leaning You Tube vlogger from outside the local area has been bailed on the condition he says out of the county.

Some of the shocking posts state: “Run the bastards over”… “Put a bullet in their heads if they can’t respect others” or “Tell your family to keep everything locked up, 250 new thieves, rapist and paedophiles are about to arrive in the area.”

Far-right activist Tommy Robinson has added his voice to the Penally Camp protest campaign. The founder of the English Defence League dubbed the prospect of the camp housing up to 250 asylum seekers as ‘sickening’, which has led to more interest in Penally online.
The Pembrokeshire Herald has engaged Facebook moderators after news articles, which now reach one million people online, were spammed with racist comments. 6,000 comments have already been checked, and hundreds deleted this newspaper can confirm.

A police spokesman said: “South Wales Police is looking into a number of inflammatory posts published on social media concerning the accommodation of asylum seekers at Penally in Pembrokeshire. Users of social media are requested to be mindful of the language used when publishing posts.”

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