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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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The latest increase in coronavirus in Wales is ‘sobering’ says First Minister

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THE FIRST MINISTER, Mark Drakeford has criticised the lack of communication with the UK government as he gave a briefing on what he described as the “sobering” increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalisation in Wales.

The infection rate in Wales has risen to 23.6 infections for every 100k people as cases have spiked in areas including Merthyr, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Caerphilly and Newport.

Hospitalisations remain low but are rising, with five people currently in intensive care with Covid-19 and and 53 Covid patients on all hospital wards, according to the latest data from Public Health Wales from Sunday, September 13.

Mr Drakeford said that the number of people in hospital with coronavirus had risen to 41 with four people in intensive care.

He also said that the R number in Wales was almost certainly now above one – meaning the virus is spreading exponentially again. The latest estimate, he said, was between 0.7 and 1.2.

Mr Drakeford said: “In this most difficult week, there has been no meeting offered to First Ministers of any sort. Since the 28 May, there has been just one brief telephone call from the Prime Minister.

“This is simply unacceptable to anyone who believes that we ought to be facing the coronavirus crisis together.

“We need a regular, reliable, rhythm of engagement: a reliable meeting even once a week would be a start. I make this argument not because we should all do the same things, but because being round the same table allows each of us to make the best decisions for the nations we represent.

“There is a vacancy at the heart of the United Kingdom, and it needs urgently to be filled, so we can talk to each other, share information, pool ideas and demonstrate a determination that the whole of the country can face these challenges together at this most difficult time.”

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Trade deal won’t benefit Wales

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EVERY week, the Herald carries political opinion pieces from across Wales’ principal political parties.

This week, Jonathan Edwards MP casts an eye over the trade deal between the UK and Japan announced this week and wonders ‘What’s in it for Wales?’

Jonathan Edwards writes: THE BUNTING was on full display in Westminster this week as the British Government announced that it had reached the holy grail of signing its first post-Brexit international trade deal.  

The agreement with Japan was described by Secretary of State Liz Truss as a ‘major moment in our national history’.  As major moments go, a casual look at the detail leaves a lot to be desired.  Effectively all the British Government has achieved is to replicate a deal UK business already benefited from as part of the EU-Japan trade deal signed in 2019.

The British Government admit that over a 15-year period the deal will only increase UK economic wealth by 0.07%.  However, under the rules of Brexit political discourse never let the facts get in the way for an excuse to sing Rule Britannia and wave the Union Jack.

During the debate in the Commons, I highlighted that the British Government’s own figures indicate in a best-case scenario it would take 71 deals of this nature to make up for the British Governments strategy for the second phase of Brexit of leaving the EU Single Market and Customs Union.  If we no deal at the end of the year the situation would be considerably worse.

For Wales, the economic benefits are projected to be less than even the negligible UK figures with the deal only expected to benefit the Welsh economy by a measly 0.05%.  The same goes for other trade deals currently being negotiated by the British Government.

Capitulating on chlorinated chicken in the US Trade deal could only benefit the Welsh economy by 0.05% over 15 years according to an excellent Senedd Research paper.  

The New Zealand and Australia deals, according to the same paper, could have a 0% impact on the Welsh economy.  

Never again can the Tories claim to be the party of business: what we are witnessing is economic madness.

The agricultural provisions in the Japan deal further fuels my fears that our farmers will be the proverbial sacrificial lambs in these trade negotiations.  True there was progress on Geographical Indicators, but the British Government failed to secure any tariff rate quotas for food products.  Instead, our farmers will only be able to utilise unused quotas by the European Union.  

Let that sink in.  

In the real world, effectively. EU export policy will determine what can be exported from the UK.

The Secretary of State emphasised that the Japan deal paved the way for entry to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  A free trade area consisting of 11 countries (down from 12 after the US pulled out).  

What the British Government are reluctant to reveal is that the TPP contains strict rules on State Aid and also includes an investor-state dispute resolution mechanism which would supersede UK domestic law.  These are the same two areas, of course, that have led to the breakdown in the second phase Brexit negotiations currently ongoing.

At the end of the day, the two great Brexit era slogans of ‘take back control’ and ‘global Britain’ are completely incompatible and inherently contradictory.

As UK international trade policy develops these inconsistencies will become apparent to all.

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Plans for Llanelli’s first ever virtual Christmas carnival

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LLANELLI Christmas Carnival will not be held this year, for the first time in its 42-year history.

Partners have confirmed that the decision has been made in line with current Welsh Government guidance and increasing concerns about the spread of coronavirus linked to large gatherings.

However, plans are afoot to celebrate Christmases past and present in the town’s first ever virtual carnival.

On what would have been ‘carnival night’ the town’s illuminations will be switched on and an online celebration will be hosted on Carmarthenshire County Council’s social media channels featuring music, opportunity to reminisce over past carnivals and a challenge to businesses and organisations to create a carnival scene for the town’s first ever virtual parade.

The town’s Christmas tree is also being relocated to a more visible location for passers-by, at the busy Gelli-Onn junction near West End.

The largest Christmas carnival in Wales, Llanelli’s festive celebrations are a joint effort by Carmarthenshire County Council, Llanelli Town Council, Llanelli Rural Council and Llanelli Round Table.

Partners have expressed their disappointment at the decision but have vowed to keep Christmas spirit alive.

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “We have made this decision with a very heavy heart as we know how much the carnival means to the people of Llanelli. This is the first time since it started over 40 years ago that we have had to take a decision like this and we are as disappointed as I’m sure everyone else will be.

“We are determined to do something special to keep the tradition alive and planning is now underway to hold a virtual carnival on what would have been the night of the traditional festivities.”

Cllr Shahana Najmi, Leader of Llanelli Town Council said: “The Llanelli Christmas Carnival is the highlight in the calendar for thousands of people and whilst we’re sorry we can’t hold the traditional carnival this year, we are pleased to be working with partners on an online celebration which we hope people will get involved with and enjoy.”

Cllr Tegwen Devichand, Leader of Llanelli Rural Council, said: “Generations of families have enjoyed Llanelli’s Christmas carnival over the years and we’re disappointed that for this first time in its history we are unable to put on the parade. We hope people will understand the decision and support the plans we’re developing for the town’s first virtual carnival.”

Roger Bowen, of Llanelli Round Table, added: “Llanelli’s carnival night is an important night as it raises a great amount of money for local charities and brings many communities together with such tremendous work on the floats, which really makes the evening such a special event.  We hope that people will find other ways to give generously and support good causes in our communities.”

Further information will be released in the coming weeks about the virtual carnival and how people can get involved.

Keep an eye on Carmarthenshire County Council’s Facebook and Twitter feeds and visit newsroom.carmarthenshire.gov.wales

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