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Diesel clean-up operation underway following train derailment

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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.

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.

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.”

FROM OUR PHOTOGRAPHER, DARREN HARRIES

Yesterday, 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.

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Covid alert level lowered for whole of UK

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THE COVID alert level for all four nations of the United Kingdom has been lowered to alert level 4.

The decision comes following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in light of the most recent data.

In recent weeks, the R-rate and the number of covid cases has been on the decline.

Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton said: “Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the four UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England National Medical Director agree that the UK alert level should move from level 5 to level 4 in all four nations.

“The health services across the four nations remain under significant pressure with a high number of patients in hospital, however thanks to the efforts of public we are now seeing numbers consistently declining, and the threat of the NHS and other health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has receded.

“We should be under no illusions – transmission rates, hospital pressures and deaths are still very high. In time, the vaccines will have a major impact and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they receive the offer. However for the time being it is really important that we all – vaccinated or not – remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines.

“We know how difficult the situation has been and remains to be for healthcare workers, we thank them for their immense effort, skill and professionalism throughout the pandemic.”

Under the Welsh Government’s Alert level 4 restrictions, schools and colleges, places of worship, community centres, playgrounds and public parks are among those that can be opened.

Theatres, entertainment venues, leisure facilities and outdoor visitors attractions are among the places that must remain close while the country is in Alert Level 4.

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Wife completes 50-mile running challenge to raise money for charity after husband suffers stroke

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A 39-YEAR-OLD woman from Pwll, Llanelli, has raised over £8,000 for the Stroke Association, after she completed a 50-mile running challenge.

Katie Fry’s husband Dale, 36, had a major stroke in July last year, in the middle of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and she wants to raise awareness of stroke and how it can happen at any age and at any time.
 
Dale did not have any symptoms of a stroke, he went to work, played with his children and went for a run but had a headache in the evening so went to bed, when he woke up in the early hours of the next morning he had left sided weakness, headaches and slurred speech.

Katie acted FAST and Dale was admitted to hospital for tests where it was found that Dale had a severe stroke so he was airlifted to Bristol for a thrombectomy, 24 hours later he had life saving brain surgery and remained in Intensive care for days, Dale was repatriated back to the stroke ward in PPH where he remained before being transferred to Neath Port Talbot hospital for his rehabilitation in September.

Dale is transferring to the BIRT (Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust) early March where he will continue his rehab for 12 weeks.
 
Katie said: “Dale was fit and well, the stroke came out of nowhere and it was really unexpected. It has been a hard six months as Dale has remained in hospital for his rehabilitation but due to Covid-19 we have been unable to visit him much at all.

“The pandemic has had a huge impact on Dale’s recovery as resources have been limited and Dale is now on a ward with recovering Covid-19 patients and had limited interaction and support. We communicate via video calls but it’s not the same, this has had a huge impact on Dale’s mental wellbeing.’
 
Katie and Dale have been married for 10 years and have two young children, “I am so proud of my husband as he is working so hard with his rehabilitation and I love to see the videos of him getting a step closer in his recovery. Dale inspires me every day and I hope he and we as a family can inspire other families going through the same journey as us.”
 
Katie decided to fundraise for the Stroke Association with a 50 mile running challenge as she was determined to do something positive, “It has been a release for me to get out running. It was a way of raising awareness for the charity but also to help me navigate through this difficult time. I have two young children so it has been a very stressful time with home-schooling as well as helping Dale with his recovery. I can’t thank my friends and family enough for their help and support and for everyone who has donated.”
 
Katie Chappelle, Associate Director, Wales at the Stroke Association said:
“Thank you to Katie for raising an amazing £8000.00. These are vital funds as with the support of people like Katie we can help more stroke survivors and their families as they look to rebuild their lives.

“A stroke can happen to anyone at any time and it turns lives upside down as it has with Dale and his family.”

To sponsor Katie or keep up to date with Dale’s progress please visit: https://www.facebook.com/donate/740852340189430/

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