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Diesel train spill ‘most challenging recovery operation since Sea Empress’

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THE ONGOING clean-up of the Llangennech freight derailment and diesel spill site is the most challenging recovery operation since the Sea Empress disaster 25 years ago, according to the Incident Recovery Manager.

Environmental contractors Adler and Allan have been working around the clock to complete the complex remediation work at the site where a freight train pulling 25 wagons each containing up to 100,000 litres of diesel derailed near Llangennech in Carmarthenshire on 26 August 2020. The derailment and the subsequent damage to the wagons resulted in a significant spillage of diesel and a major fire.

Contaminated soil from 150 metres of railway at a depth of two metres and width of 20 metres has been excavated during the 27/7 operation.. The soil has been replaced with new, clean material from quarries in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire that match the chemical and physical properties of that already on site. Contaminated materials have been removed by lorry and taken to a licenced waste management facility near Merthyr Tydfil.

Monitoring of the site and the wider environment is ongoing to ensure the safety and quality of shellfish harvested from the area. Latest laboratory results from the analysis of cockles and mussels for environmental contaminants, including oil, indicate levels continue to be well within regulatory limits.

Incident recovery manager Stuart Thomas, of Natural Resources Wales, has been at the heart of the recovery effort.

Work is continuing at the Llangennech site this week (Pic NRW)

Stuart Thomas said: “This is the most challenging recovery operation we’ve seen since Pembrokeshire’s Sea Empress disaster 25 years ago.

“A phenomenal amount of work has been carried out at the site to safely remove the contaminated soil and reinstate the ground. Contractors have worked around the clock, and have had to overcome many challenges, including flooding of the site during recent severe weather.

“The physical works are now nearing completion with just the Coal Authority land to treat, replanting to take place and of course the reopening of the railway line.

“Monitoring of the site and surrounding area, which includes four Sites of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation, will continue for years to come.

“I’m very pleased to see the latest shellfish monitoring results continue to be well within regulatory limits. Local shellfish producers have been informed.”

The final part of the remediation is now taking place on Coal Authority land. This work includes the removal of the top layer of ground where contaminated fire water was pumped during the incident in an area of woodland to the north east of the incident site, as well as deeper excavation work at the incident site itself.

Jacobs, acting on behalf of Network Rail have provided design support for the new railway line with work beginning to lay a new track, signalling, power and telecommunication work commencing as planned on 4 January.

Work is progressing to plan despite some recent weather related challenges.

Bill Kelly, Wales route director at Network Rail, said: “This is one of the largest scale environmental recovery operations Network Rail has ever been involved with and it’s thanks to the quick thinking of our frontline railway colleagues, and our partners at Natural Resources Wales, that an environmental disaster was averted.

“Over the last two months, around 30,000 tonnes of contaminated soil has been removed from site – a massive operation designed to protect the local environment for future generations.

“We are working closely with Transport for Wales and our freight operating partners to get services back up and running. The final stage of our work is now underway, and we’re making great progress installing brand new track and repairing damage to the signalling system.”

Adler and Allan anticipate completing the remediation works by the end of February 2021, with ongoing monitoring and ecological restoration over the next two to five years.

The ongoing investigation into the cause of the freight train derailment is being led by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.

A police helicopter circles above the train fire (Pic R Milsom/Herald)

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Milford Haven-bound ‘flying oil tanker’ hits the national news

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A MILFORD HAVEN bound oil tanker has made the national news, after a photograph taken off the Cornish coast made it look like the ship was flying.

An optical illusion caused the ship to appear as though it was floating above the horizon

The ship is believed to be the Hafnia Malacca Oil/Chemical Tanker which is heading to Pembrokeshire from Primorsk, Russia via the English Channel.

David Morris, from the hamlet of Gillan, near Falmouth took a photo of the ship near Falmouth, Cornwall, the BBC have reported.

On the BBC news website, meteorologist David Braine said the “superior mirage” occurred because of “special atmospheric conditions that bend light”.

He said the illusion is common in the Arctic, but can appear “very rarely” in the UK during winter.

Mr Morris said he was “stunned” after capturing the picture while looking out to sea from the hamlet of Gillan

Mr Braine said: “Superior mirages occur because of the weather condition known as a temperature inversion, where cold air lies close to the sea with warmer air above it.

“Since cold air is denser than warm air, it bends light towards the eyes of someone standing on the ground or on the coast, changing how a distant object appears.

“Superior mirages can produce a few different types of images – here a distant ship appears to float high above its actual position, but sometimes an object below the horizon can become visible.”

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Pembrokeshire residents can quickly check symptoms for variety of conditions on NHS 111 Wales online

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NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker can save Pembrokeshire patients time by helping them find the right NHS service for treatment. Symptoms can be quickly checked for a variety of conditions and advice given on the best way to treat them by visiting www.111.wales.nhs.uk which is hosted by the Welsh Ambulance Service.

The way we access NHS services has changed as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with more options now becoming increasingly utilised, including the NHS 111 Wales online service which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can be used for both health information and advice and to access urgent primary care in Welsh and English.

In a recent YouGov survey, a third of Pembrokeshire residents had not even heard of the NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker and only 19% had used it during the past 12 months.

Andrew Carruthers, Director of Operations at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “We are asking everyone to help us by reconsidering the way you access NHS services. The methods available have changed but we are still here for you. It is worth getting to know the different ways you can access the NHS so you can be seen and treated quicker with your first port of call being NHS 111 Wales.”

According to the YouGov survey, carried out for the Welsh Government’s Keep Wales Safe campaign, only 67% of Pembrokeshire residents had heard of the NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker. However, 86% said they felt it was important to have access to the service.   

NHS 111 Wales online can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do. The way it works is: You answer questions about your symptoms on the website and depending on the situation you will:

  •           Get self-care advice
  •           Be told how to get any medicine you need
  •           Find out what local service can help you
  •           Be connected to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP
  •           Get a face-to-face appointment if you need one
  •           Be given an arrival time if you need to go to A&E – this might mean you spend less time in A&E

For those who don’t have confidence going online to seek advice, there is the NHS 111 Wales phone service. This is also a free service where patients can contact the NHS by dialling 111 to receive advice on the best way to manage their issue or gain further assistance if needed. The bilingual telephone service is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Eighty-four percent of Pembrokeshire residents had heard of the NHS 111 Wales phone service when asked for the recent YouGov survey but only 20% had used the telephone service during the last 12 months.

 

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Trial date for son accused of killing mum

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THE SON of Judith Rhead, 68, who was found dead in her home in Market Street, Pembroke Dock on Feb 20 will now appear in Crown Court again in October.

Dale Morgan, 43, said to be a scout master, appeared in court only to confirm his name, date of birth and address – which was listed as Honeyborough Green, Neyland.

A plea and trial preparation hearing date was set for March 26 with a provisional trial date set for October 4.

He was remanded in custody.

In court papers it stated that the alleged murder took place between December 10, 2020 and February 21, 2021.

The paperwork demonstrates that the police are unsure of the exact date that Ms Rhead died. The large date range, two months, points to the likelihood that this will be a challenging case for all those involved.

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