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Train fire is now out, but now concerns surround pollution risk to Loughor Estuary

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FIRE FIGHTERS have now extinguished the fire, involving a freight train, near Pontarddulais Road, Llangennech, Carmarthenshire. Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service handed over the scene to British Transport Police and Network Rail at 08:30am on Friday 28th August 2020.

Superintendent Andy Morgan of British Transport Police said: “Overnight, officers from British Transport Police, Dyfed-Powys Police, the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, ambulance service and Carmarthenshire County Council dealt with a major incident on the railway line near Llangennech.

“We have launched an investigation and will be assisting the Office of Rail and Road and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch to establish the exact circumstances behind the incident.

Network rail staff assess the damage (Image Herald/D Harries)

“What we know is a freight train, carrying large amounts of diesel oil, caught fire and a number of its carriages also derailed. Thankfully, despite the clear danger, no injuries have been reported. The two members of railway staff operating the train were able raise the alarm and uncouple the locomotive and move it to a safe space.

“The fire was significant due to the quantity of fuel it was carrying and presented a possible danger to the wider community.

“As a precaution, roads were shut, and Dyfed-Powys Police evacuated a large number of homes within a radius of the fire.

“I believe around 300 people were affected and I’d like to thank everyone for their understanding and quick action in what must have been a frightening time.

“At this time, the cause of the fire is unknown and, while the fire continues, there is still a substantial risk within its immediate vicinity, so our advice remains for people to avoid the area.

The fire was extinguished by 8.30am on Friday morning (Aug 28) (Pic D Harries/Herald)

“Our officers are conducting initial enquiries and are in the process of collecting key witness statements and CCTV. Once the fire is extinguished, and the scene is safe to assess and investigate, they’ll be assisting the ORR and RAIB further at the scene.

“This was and remains a very challenging incident. I’d like to thank all of our partners for their ongoing support and work to ensure the safety of the surrounding community.”

DB Cargo UK, the owner of the train, say it continues to support the ongoing, multi-agency response to the freight train derailment and fire which occurred on Wednesday night at Llangennech in South Wales.

A spokesman said: “We have been informed by Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service that the fire has now been extinguished and control of the scene handed over to the British Transport Police and Network Rail.”

“The environmental clean-up operation is now also underway.”

“The uninjured driver and engineer who were onboard the train at the time of the incident are both doing well and continue to be supported by the company.”

As is normal procedure in these circumstances, the driver and engineer have already been interviewed by the British Transport Police and will continue to cooperate fully with all the various agencies involved in investigating this unfortunate incident.

The accident investigation is being led by the RAIB.

Farmers, landowners and cockle pickers near to the derailment were warned by Natural Resources Wales that “they will not be able to carry on as normal tomorrow”, as the extent of the spillage was assessed.

The Loughor River, near to the site of the derailment, marks the border between Carmarthenshire and Swansea and reports of diesel oil floating on the surface of the river began to come in on Thursday afternoon and throughout the evening.

The Burry Inlet Cockle Fishery encompasses the Loughor Estuary and three other Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Fisherman Neil Esmonde spotted diesel in the Loughor Estuary (Image: Facebook/N Esmonde)

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‘Reach out to friends and family’ says Council Leader

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THIS week’s update from Cllr David Simpson, Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council:

‘Hello everyone, I hope you are all keeping well and safe.

‘I’d like to highlight that this week is Mental Health Awareness Week.

‘I’m very aware that the last 15 months has had a huge impact on our lives and, in some cases, our wellbeing.

‘Mental Health can be a hidden issue and we all need to be aware that some people may need some extra support.

‘On a personal level the lockdown restrictions have reminded me of the importance to talk to people and to ensure people are supported.

‘Supporting your friends and family can be as simple as a phone call to say hello. A quick hello can ensure people are ok and managing and can give someone a huge uplift.

“Our communities have done a fantastic job of supporting each other so please, Team Pembrokeshire, continue these efforts.

‘I urge you all to pick up the phone and say hello to your friends and family, as we all need to play our role in everyone’s wellbeing – talking about issues does make a difference.

‘If you are suffering from Mental Health or general wellbeing issues please reach out, do not struggle on your own, your friends and family can help and make a difference.

‘Please also take the opportunity to also view the website at https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week which has much more information and support.

‘I now want to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in last week’s elections.

‘Elections take a phenomenal amount of organisation at the best of times but even more so in a pandemic situation.

‘To all those who ensured the smooth running of the elections process, thank you.

‘Congratulations to all the successful candidates and I look forward to working with them to further improve the lives of Pembrokeshire people.

‘We have now had further updates from Welsh Government and the next phase of the unlocking road map has been unveiled.

‘From Monday, 17th May, indoor hospitality can re-open.

‘Up to six people from six different households will be able to meet indoors in pubs, cafes and restaurants.

‘We have so many fantastic hospitality venues in Pembrokeshire who we know will be giving their customers a big welcome after so long away.

‘The opening of indoor hospitality will be a major landmark in our emergence from the pandemic and towards recovery.

‘While out and about please remember social distancing rules are still in pace, consider your actions on others, remember your footprint has an impact on our communities, so please tread lightly.

‘When you go home, leave with a smile – enjoy your days out, enjoy seeing your families and most importantly enjoy our beautiful county and please support us in keeping Pembrokeshire special – play your part and please be responsible.

‘I want to wish you all a lovely weekend and I look forward to talking to you all again next week through my update.

‘Thank you everyone.’

You can keep up to date with all the Council’s press releases here: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/newsroom

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Plan to rescue rare butterfly from extinction in Pembrokeshire

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THE PEMBROKESHIRE Coast National Park Authority is stepping up efforts to save the marsh fritillary butterfly, which was once widespread in Wales but is now close to extinction in Pembrokeshire.

Funded by the Pembrokeshire Nature Partnership, the new landscape scale strategy aims to improve the fortunes of the rare species, which relies on networks of flower rich marshy grasslands across the landscape.

Much of this habitat, which is home to the favourite food of its larva – the devil’s bit scabious (succisa pratensis), has been lost due to drainage, inappropriate tree planting and the neglect of traditional management of grasslands through light grazing with heavy animals such as cattle.

National Park AuthorityBiodiversity Officer, Sarah Mellor said: “The marsh fritillary in Pembrokeshire is now in a very precarious position. We think it has already become extinct in a number of areas in its former range and it has not been seen on the St Davids Peninsula since 2013. The population around Keeston and Tiers Cross is also now thought to be extinct.

“We must find a way to make space for wildlife in our landscape to ensure that nature can thrive for future generations. It is quite sobering to think this species could disappear from Pembrokeshire in my lifetime. We have a responsibility not to let this happen on our watch.

“Even in those areas where it remains we have seen dramatic declines, for example around Mychanchlogddu it used to be recorded from 32 sites, but since 2015 it has only been seen at seven sites.”

The National Park Authority has already stepped up its action to rescue the rare butterfly by assisting landowners to bring sites into suitable management through grant aid and providing suitable grazing animals through the Pembrokeshire Grazing Network and the Conserving the Park Scheme.

The new strategy will include mobilising Park Authority staff and volunteers to undertake targeted surveys at sites across the county, as well as helping landowners to manage their land in a sensitive way to help ensure the future of this rare butterfly.

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Santander turns away customers due to nationwide computer glitch

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CUSTOMERS of Santander in Haverfordwest were being turned away this morning by branch staff saying that they were unable to make transactions due to a computer glitch. It is understood that branches use the same computer systems which run the bank’s other systems.

Problems arouse last night when computer updates which the bank was implementing did not go to plan.

Some Herald readers contacted the news room to speak of their surprise that they were not able to access their funds.

One reader, who had gone to the bank to withdraw funds to pay rent on his home was told that there was nothing that could be done.

Website and App transactions are also being affected at the high street bank, and card transactions are being declined

The head of money at consumer magazine Which?, Gareth Shaw, said many customers will be stressed, “with people reporting that they have been unable to make online payments or in some cases purchase food in their local supermarket”.

“Customers can incur fines, penalties and fees when they’re not able to access their finances, so the bank must offer compensation to all those who have been impacted in this way”.

Santander told customers they can “access cash from other banks’ ATMs, at the Post Office and can get cashback where that’s available”.

A service status page on its website said planned maintenance was due to be performed on the Santander mobile banking app overnight on Friday. It is not known whether this prompted Saturday’s problems.

On Twitter, a Santander spokesperson said: “We’re sorry that a technical problem is affecting our services, our teams are working hard to fix it.

“You can access cash from other banks’ ATMs. Please check back here for further updates.”

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