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Deputy Mayor slams agencies for inaction over asbestos

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EXCLUSIVE by Joanna Halbert

DIFFERENT types of asbestos, a well known carcinogenic, have been found on Burry Port’s East beach, by the site of the old Carmarthen Bay Power Station, part of the Millennium Coastal Path.

Concerned members of the Burry Port community said that over the course of several months they found suspicious, asbestos-like material on the East beach, particularly in areas subject to the highest levels of coastal erosion.

Skateboard park on the old power station site, close to where asbestos has been found. 

The members, who have now formed the ‘Burry Port Anti-Asbestos Action Group’, report having contacted a number of different agencies to raise the matter. However, they say they only received a limited number of responses with the common response being to contact another agency.

A member of the Group told Herald.Wales: “We have not received responses from some agencies although we sent a lot of emails to them and the replies we have got back from some are not helpful at all. None of them want to take responsibility.”

Decaying pipes from the old power station which are now visible due to coastal erosion. 

“Natural Resources Wales told us they weren’t responsible for the Millenium Coastal Park and it was Carmarthenshire County Council who we had to deal with.

“Carmarthenshire County Council told us it was Natural Resources Wales not them”.

The Group, frustrated with the lack of action being taken by various agencies, paid independently for professional sample testing to be conducted on materials on the East beach coast wall.

The different laboratory results of their samples were processed quickly and confirmed their fears. The samples have identified two different types of asbestos. The reports show the presence of both ‘Chrysotile asbestos’, commonly referred to as white asbestos and ‘Crocidolite asbestos’, also known as blue asbestos.

Pipes from the old power station

Members of the Group and other local people believe that the asbestos is coming from the remnants of the Carmarthen Bay Power Station which was demolished in 1991. The Station was owned by the Central Electricity Generating Board. It was built in 1947 on the grounds of the old Copper Works with power generation running between 1953 to 1984. It was a large employer in the area during its peak operating period.

A source with a high level of local knowledge including of the old Station commented that there are tonnes of asbestos including the most dangerous blue and brown types buried in bags under the path by the East beach, close to a skateboard park used by children.

The Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Burry Port were made aware of the findings and have provided support and assistance to the Group.

Path beside beach which a member of the action group claims is contaminted

Speaking to Deputy Mayor, Councillor Michael Theodoulou on the findings of the report he said: “I am furious. To think that this is here, on our local beach, in this day and age.

“How did we ever reach this position?

“I am not just upset over this, I am angry!

“The school is just over there and we have had 70 mile per hour winds recently which could easily carry it.

“I don’t want any more rubbish excuses, something has to get done now”.

Both types of asbestos found on the East beach pose a risk to health but the blue form of asbestos is considered to pose a significant hazard to health.

Carmarthenshire County Council issued a statement Monday. Councillor Philip Hughes, the council’s Executive Board Member for Public Protection, said in the statement:

“We have acted on reports of sightings of material that could potentially contain asbestos on a small stretch of the beach between Burry Port and Pwll.

“This is in an area where some remains of the power station that was demolished in the 1990s is being uncovered by coastal erosion.

“Whilst we can be reassured that the material – even if it is found to contain asbestos – poses very little risk due to the wet conditions of the area, we advise people to leave the material alone.”

Councillor Peter Hughes Griffiths, Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, statement added:

“Whilst we await the imminent advice of the specialists we will continue to monitor the beach as part of our routine inspections and will take any necessary action as and when we are advised, including localised notices.”

Asbestos was commonly used during the construction process to insulate buildings, pipes, boilers, and as a cement for roofing sheets and pipes.
It was used until the late 1990s in the UK. People were and still can be unwittingly exposed to asbestos in their homes, employment and communities.

If products containing asbestos are disturbed, fibres from it can then break off and be released into the environment. When asbestos fibres are breathed in, they can enter the lungs which over time, can cause inflammation, which can affect breathing and further lead to various, serious terminal health problems such as pleural plaques, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

A report from the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat commissioned in 2001 included alarming findings that between 1997 and 2001 research showed there was 108 asbestos related deaths in Carmarthenshire.
If you or a family member have been diagnosed with an industrial related disease and worked at the old power plant please contact us confidentially.

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Swansea Building Society expands Cradock Street head office

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SWANSEA BUILDING SOCIETY has expanded its head office at 11/12 Cradock Street, Swansea, with the acquisition of the adjoining property – number 13. The refurbishment of the adjoining property is set to take approximately 10 weeks, with a move-in date scheduled for the end of January 2023.

The acquisition has been made to help accommodate the Society’s growing workforce, which has grown by 10 percent over the past year. Extensive work is now required on the new property, with a full refurbishment, new windows, and a new roof needed before it can comfortably accommodate the Society’s additional staff.

The move in date is set to tie in with an important milestone in Swansea Building Society’s history – it will celebrate 100 years as a mutual in 2023.

As it approaches this key landmark, the Society is enjoying a period of sustained and significant growth – the result of many years planning and investment. Its total assets, mortgage balances, savings, capital, and profits all reached record highs in the past year, passing the landmark £500 million in total assets for the first time.

It has also invested more than £1 million in its IT and back-office infrastructure, in a project that replaces all its hardware, considerably strengthens its cyber security, improves resilience with a remote disaster recovery site, and enhances the online offering it is able to provide its customers.

Along with this, the Society has invested in new talent across a number of departments including mortgage underwriting, IT, marketing, and the mortgage sales team. It has also employed several new customer-facing staff to help it support the increased footfall it has experienced at all its local branches in Swansea, Mumbles, Carmarthen and Cowbridge.

Alun Williams, Chief Executive at Swansea Building Society, said:

“The acquisition of number 13 Cradock Street is much needed to accommodate our growing head office workforce. When completed, the refurbished extension to our property will host 14 staff and allow us room for further expansion if needed.
“Our success and investment over recent years means that we are even better prepared to help our members plan their finances and get the savings and mortgage products they need for a better and more secure future. By increasing our staff, expanding our premises, and updating our IT infrastructure, we are better able to serve them with the financial advice and products that are right for them. It also means we can provide them with a choice of options about how they manage their finances – in person at one of our many branches or online – whichever is most convenient.”

Cllr Rob Stewart, Leader, Swansea Council, said:

“The expansion of Swansea Building Society’s headquarters in Cradock Street is more great news for our city centre. The Society is a shining example of a successful, community-minded mutual, and to see it expanding its workforce, creating jobs, and bringing them right into the heart of the city is fantastic.
“Cradock Street is undergoing considerable redevelopment with the renovation and repurposing of the Albert Hall by Depot Swansea – directly opposite Swansea Building Society’s headquarters – into a multi-purpose venue. Renovation of this area is another example of how we are saving the city’s heritage for future generations in a way that is useful and meaningful to the people of Swansea. The city is undergoing an important phase in its regeneration, and organisations like Swansea Building Society play a vital role in ensuring that this regeneration is sustainable for the future.”

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BHF Cymru celebrates Heart Heroes across Wales

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BHF CYMRU is celebrating the inspirational people from Carmarthenshire who’ve been nominated in the British Heart Foundation’s Heart Hero Awards 2022.

The annual awards ceremony returns for a fifth year on Thursday 1st December. The charity will honour incredible young heart heroes who’ve shown remarkable bravery and gone above and beyond to help others while coping with the devastating impact of heart disease, as well as CPR lifesavers, innovative fundraisers, corporate partners, research champions and healthcare heroes working in the NHS.

Winners will be announced at a glittering ceremony in London, with Vernon Kay hosting for the fourth time. He’ll be joined by celebrity judges including footballing legend David Ginola and Olympic gymnasts Becky and Ellie Downie.

Healthcare Hero Nominee

Dr Lena Izzat from Llanelli has supported BHF Cymru to raise awareness of the Heart Attack Gender Gap in Wales. As a female cardiologist she has spoken out about the unconscious and systemic bias in the health care system which leaves women who have heart attacks less likely to get diagnosed and receive the best care. Lena has been integral to a campaign which has secured a commitment from the Minister for Health to tackle health inequalities in Wales.

Innovative Fundraiser Nominees

Lisa Pudner from Llanelli is a former Paralympian who raised over £2,000 for the BHF through a sponsored handcycle and walking event in memory of her friend Nest Davies. Nest died suddenly from a heart attack. Lisa was awarded a BHF Cymru medal in recognition of her achievements and said: “We did this for the BHF because they fund research into heart and circulatory conditions, and we want to stop other families and friends losing loved ones in the future.”

Lifesavers nominated as CPR Heroes for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in a life-threatening emergency

  • Alun Sturley from Carmarthen who saved his father John.
  • Jean Thomas from Carmarthen, saved her husband Michael.

Head of BHF Cymru, Rhodri Thomas, himself from Carmarthenshire said: “The Heart Hero Awards are the highlight of our year, bringing together inspirational nominees from different walks of life and from every part of the UK. From fantastic children to remarkable pensioners, they all share such spirit and embody the very best of us.

“I’m proud and humbled that so many nominees are from Carmarthenshire, and I’m delighted to thank them for the amazing support they give the BHF and the motivation they bring to myself and the whole BHF Cymru team.

“Whilst we celebrate these brilliant Heart Hero nominees, we also thank each of our brilliant BHF supporters who power our lifesaving science and bring new hope to the 7.6 million people across the UK living with conditions such as stroke, heart disease and vascular dementia.

“I’m in no doubt that their dedication and selflessness will mean more lives will be saved from heart and circulatory disease, so thank you and congratulations to all our inspirational nominees”. 

The Heart Heroes Awards will be live-streamed at 8pm on Thursday 1st December. Register to watch the celebration online at: https://www.bhf.org.uk/heartheroes

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Public Services Board seeks views to improve local well-being

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CARMARTHENSHIRE’S Public Services Board (PSB) is seeking residents’ views to find out what matters to them and their local communities.

The PSB has developed its Well-being Objectives and draft actions to deliver them, based on feedback received on its Well-being Assessment. The results of a survey at that time gathered views and helped shape the PSB’s understanding of the economic, social, environmental, and cultural factors that impact the well-being of individuals and communities within Carmarthenshire.

Once again, residents are being asked to contribute to help public service partners develop Carmarthenshire’s Local Well-being Plan for 2023-28.

To help shape the future of well-being please visit: Current Consultations (gov.wales)

The survey closes on 25 January 2023.

Cllr Darren Price, Chair of the Carmarthenshire PSB and Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “To deliver what is important to our communities, we need to their feedback and input. This survey is an opportunity for our residents to tell us if we, as public services, are on the right track to help create a better future for our children’s generation, and the generations to follow, as we strive to reach this goal.” 

Andrew Cornish, Vice-Chair of the PSB andChief Executive Officer / Principal of Coleg Sir Gar and Coleg Ceredigion said: “Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our work so far. Our Well-being Assessment gives us a strong foundation on which to build our Well-being Plan and I would like to encourage everyone to take part in our involvement work for the preparation of the Plan.”

Carmarthenshire’s Public Services Board is a partnership of public and third sector organisations working together to improve well-being across the county and includes Carmarthenshire County Council, Hywel Dda University Health Board, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Natural Resources Wales and other organisations.

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