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Valero shutdown contractors ‘put at risk’

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THE HERALD has been contacted by employees at a local firm working at a local oil refinery have been told that they had to continue working whilst awaiting coronavirus test results. The local authority says it is investigating.

Several Hertel employees (A subsidiary of Altrad), who wish to remain anonymous, have contacted this newspaper to express their concerns, explaining their employer is putting “their lives and their families lives in danger.”

Sources have told us how two employees of Hertel, who are currently subcontracted to work on the shutdown at Valero, Pembroke, received a positive coronavirus test result, however they claim that Government guidelines are not being followed by the company.

One worker told us how a group of around eighteen employees were told last Tuesday (Mar 23) they would have to go for a coronavirus test as a precautionary measure as they had been in contact with two employees who had tested positive a few days previous.

It is reported that Hertel management told the employees that they must book a test through the NHS testing centre, then once they had the test return to work while they await their result, or they will be penalised financially.

One source said: “They were told by bosses to go get the test and come back to work or you will not get paid. If you come back, you won’t lose anything.”

“If you don’t come back you get nothing.”

Current government guidelines state that those who have taken a test must self-isolate until they receive their results.

Whilst at the coronavirus testing site in Prendergast, Haverfordwest, the employees were told that they must self-isolate until they receive their results.

A source told us that only four employees followed the NHS and Government guidance and stayed at home until they received their test results.

Which left approximately 14 employees returning to the Valero site to continue with their shifts.

Two of the employees who returned to work received positive test results the next day, we have been told.

A source told The Herald how they feel both the individuals who returned to site and the company are both responsible for breaking guidelines.

They added: “It’s all about bums on seats and getting paid.”

They said: “Everybody knows the guidelines, I don’t know what these guidelines that Hertel are following are or where they are getting them from, but they are not the Government guidelines”.

“This virus is killing people.

“It’s either health or wealth, they’ve chosen wealth.”

One source told us that the Council had contacted Valero who in turn spoke to Hertel and asked them to get the employees who had been in contact with the individuals to get tested.

A source alleges that Hertel have issued the same guidance, that employees go for their test, then return to work while awaiting their results.

Another source told us that the way the company is operating is putting people’s lives at risk, they said: “They are letting people back on site with a potentially life-threatening virus, well it is life-threatening.

The Herald contacted both Valero and Pembrokeshire County Council for a statement.

Stephen Thornton, spokesperson for Valero said that they were working with Pembrokeshire County Council.

A Pembrokeshire County Council spokesperson said: “Pembrokeshire County Council is aware of this incident and has been working closely with Public Health Wales to ensure that it is managed appropriately.

“Any confirmed cases and all identified ‘close contacts’ are required to isolate for 10 days and asked to take a test.

“In certain situations, as part of the Health Protection response of ‘Case finding’,  it can be appropriate to offer COVID-19 tests to a wider group of individuals, even though they have not been identified as close contacts.
Individuals who have not been identified as close contact but who have been asked to take a Covid-19 test as part of case finding would not be expected to self-isolate.  However, if any of these individuals test positive or they develop symptoms, they would be required to self-isolate as a case and their close contacts would be traced and asked to self-isolate.

“The local authority and Public Health Wales have worked with the businesses concerned and anyone identified as needing to self-isolate would subsequently have been unable to gain access to the site until after the completion of any self-isolation.”

The Herald has also contacted Hertel for a statement, we await their response.

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Pembrokeshire Leisure welcomes back school swimming

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PEMBROKESHIRE Leisure is welcoming back school swimming lessons around the county for the first time since March 2020.

Swimmers from over 20 schools will be attending in their class bubbles to enjoy learning vital water competency skills in Pembrokeshire Leisure’s six swimming pools.

In a county which is surrounded by beautiful beaches and coastline, being safe in and around water is a potentially life-saving skill.

The programme of school swimming lessons helps to achieve the Welsh national priority that every child is a swimmer by the time they leave primary school.

The National Curriculum requirement which has been designed in line with this is that every key stage 2 child should be able to:

  • Swim 25 metres with clothes on (shorts and t-shirt), then tread water for 30 seconds and demonstrate an action for getting help and move into the Heat Escape Lessening Position (H.E.L.P)
  • Demonstrate a shout and signal action to attract attention.

The first school to return was Ysgol Glannau Gwaun at Fishguard Leisure Centre and there are now 20 primary schools which will be attending swimming lessons around Pembrokeshire.

On Monday 14 th June, Coastlands County Primary School attended and their Head Teacher Sonja Groves said: “We are delighted to finally get back to swimming after such a long time away. The children were so happy to be back in the water learning and enjoying. Swimming is a vital life skill which helps to keep the children of Pembrokeshire safe in and around all types of water.”

Leisure Services Manager Gary Nicholas said: “It is fantastic to be able to safely welcome back school swimming to our facilities. Primary school aged children have missed over a years’ worth of swimming lessons and Pembrokeshire Leisure are committed to supporting the aim of every child a swimmer by age 11.

“We will continue to do this by delivering quality school swimming lessons following the Swim Wales Nofio Ysgol programme, using the Free Swimming Initiative to provide targeted sessions for the most deprived swimmers and by continuing to provide swimming lessons at all sites in our Learn to Swim programme.”

For more information about how you can book your child swimming lessons and support their journey to becoming a competent swimmer, contact your local leisure centre.

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Landmarc flies the flag at local training camp to celebrate Armed Forces Week

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TO CELEBRATE Armed Forces Week 2021 and the contribution made by local military personnel, Landmarc Support Services (Landmarc) has raised the Armed Forces Day flag at Castlemartin Training Area in Pembrokeshire.

Following an unprecedented year for the UK’s troops as they responded to the challenges raised by the pandemic, Landmarc, which manages the UK Defence Training Estate in partnership with Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), wanted to extend an extra special thank you, by flying the official Armed Forces Day flag at military training estates across the UK, including local camp, Castlemartin.

Landmarc employees were joined by Armed Forces personnel and staff from DIO to witness the raising of the flag, where it will fly proudly until Armed Forces Week comes to a close on the 28th of June.

This Armed Forces Week, Landmarc has pledged its support and sponsorship of Team Emotive in its mission to complete one of the world’s most difficult ocean rowing challenges – the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – all in the name of raising money for mental health charity, Veterans at Ease.

Made up of four Armed Forces veterans, including one Landmarc employee, Team Emotive is preparing to travel 3,000 miles from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua. Rowing two hours on, two hours off for forty days, this challenge will push the team to its limits both physically and mentally. 23 rd June 2021

In addition, Landmarc has also announced its official partnership with the Armed Forces charity, SSAFA, working together to support veterans as they transition into civilian life.

Mark Neill, Managing Director at Landmarc, comments: “Each year, every one of us at Landmarc gives thanks to our troops during this special week. As part of the 25 per cent of veterans and reservists that make up Landmarc’s workforce, I know first- hand how important this event is for morale within the Forces community.

“It’s always fantastic to see so many people and organisations come together each year for Armed Forces Week, but the events of the last fifteen months have heightened our gratitude. The efforts from our servicemen and women have been immense and impossible to ignore in the nation’s fight against COVID-19; with our own staff working alongside the military to support the demands of the training estate as it hosts troops from across the country.”

For more information on Landmarc Support Services, please visit www.landmarcsolutions.com.

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Endurance runner tackles Pembrokeshire Coast

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ENDURANCE runner Sean Conway has successfully completed his epic series of marathons in the UK’s National Parks.

On Thursday, June 17, Sean tackled the Pembrokeshire coast, running from Newport to Dinas Head and back, fuelled by sports nutrition brand ‘Grenade’.

Sean, who is from North Wales, has ran the length of Britain before but says this was the longest stretch of days where he has had to constantly do a marathon every day.

Speaking of his run in Newport, Sean said: “It was so hilly. Honestly, the weather was amazing. It wasn’t too hot and there were some nice views along the way. At Dinas Head, it was amazing looking down at the lagoons and there are some amazing rock formations.”

He took six hours to complete his marathon but there was little time for recovery as he moved on to his final run in Snowdonia the day after.

“This was my second-last marathon so my body was feeling pretty battered and I’ve had to do it fully self-supported so I was doing one run out then back to the car and then out again”, Sean added.

“With covid we’ve all been staying at home more so I wanted to show off how amazing the National Parks are.

“There will be more of us visiting as restrictions are eased but we don’t want to ruin it by being silly.”

Sean was provided with his nutrition for the runs by Grenade and he said he ‘would not have been able to survive without them’.

In the morning he would have an energy drink which contained vitamins and electrolites and he would also mix this in with his water for some of his runs.

Sean would also have protein bars to give him an extra boost as he tried to keep on top of his protein intake.

“Pembrokeshire was so scenic. When I announced the runs this was the run that stood out online and I was really looking forward to doing it. We’ll definitely be coming back soon” Sean concluded.

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