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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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Parents warned to look out for respiratory illness in children

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RSV is a common respiratory illness which is usually picked up by children during the winter season

RESPIRATORY Syncytial Virus (RSV) is circulating amongst children and toddlers in the Hywel Dda area (Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire)  

Hywel Dda UHB Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive Dr Philip Kloer said: “Because of the COVID restrictions, there have been few cases of RSV during the pandemic, but this virus has returned and in higher numbers now people are mixing more.

“RSV is a common respiratory illness which is usually picked up by children during the winter season, and causes very few problems to the majority of children.  However, very young babies, particularly those born prematurely, and children with heart or lung conditions, can be seriously affected and it’s important that parents are aware of the actions to take.”

Parents are being encouraged to look out for symptoms of severe infection in at-risk children, including:

*a high temperature of 37.8°C or above (fever)

*a dry and persistent cough, difficulty feeding, rapid or noisy breathing (wheezing).

The best way to prevent RSV is to wash hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser regularly, dispose of used tissues correctly, and to keep surfaces clean and sanitised.

Most cases of bronchiolitis are not serious and clear up within 2 to 3 weeks, but you should contact your GP or call NHS 111 if:

  • You are worried about your child.
  • Your child has taken less than half their usual amount during the last two or three feeds, or they have had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more.
  • Your child has a persistent high temperature of 37.8C or above.
  • Your child seems very tired or irritable.

Dial 999 for an ambulance if:

  • your baby is having difficulty breathing
  • your baby’s tongue or lips are blue
  • there are long pauses in your baby’s breathing
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Health Board issues urgent call to anyone due a second Moderna vaccine

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RESIDENTS living in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire are being urged to check their vaccination card and come forward for their second Moderna vaccine this week if they are due.

Anyone approaching 8 weeks since a first Moderna dose should contact the Hywel Dda University Health Board’s vaccine booking team to make an appointment by calling 0300 303 8322 or by emailing COVIDenquiries.hdd@wales.nhs.uk or attend their nearest mass vaccination centre’s walk-in clinic.

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda UHB said, “Our mass vaccination centres are contacting people due a second dose of Moderna directly but in case anyone missed a call from us, we want to make sure that everyone due a second dose, especially Moderna, knows we are asking them to come forward as soon as possible.

“Two doses of the vaccine, regardless of which you received, is important for you to receive the best longer-term protection.

“The Moderna vaccine is available at all walk-in clinics across the three counties and the mobile vaccination van which will be visiting Ammanford’s Tesco store on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 September.”

If you received a first Moderna dose 8 or more weeks ago, you can attend your local centre without an appointment during the following times:

Walk-in opening times:

  • Aberystwyth (Thomas Parry Library, SY23 3AS) – open Monday 13 to Thursday 16 September between 10.00am and 6.00pm. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available. AstraZeneca only available on Thursday 16 September.
  • Ammanford (Tesco car park, Mobile Vaccination Van) – Friday 17 September and Saturday 18 September from 11.00am to 7.00pm.
  • Carmarthen walk-in Halliwell (former Y Gamfa Wen Nursery, UWTSD, SA31 3EP) – open Monday 13 to Thursday 16 September between 10.00am and 4.00pm. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available.
  • Carmarthen drive-through (United Counties Showground, SA33 5DR) – open Monday 13 to Thursday 16 September between 10am and 6pm. Moderna vaccine available.
  • Cwm-cou (Ysgol Trewen, SA38 9PE) –Open Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 September between 9.30am and 9pm. Pfizer and Moderna vaccine available.
  • Haverfordwest (Pembrokeshire Archives, SA61 2PE) – open Monday 13 to Thursday 16 September between 10am and 6pm. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available. AstraZeneca only available between 10am and 4pm on Thursday 16 September.
  • Llanelli (Dafen Industrial Estate, Unit 2a, Heol Cropin, SA14 8QW) – open Monday 13 to Thursday 16 September between 10am and 4pm. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available. AstraZeneca only available on Thursday 16 September.
  • Tenby (Tenby Leisure Centre, SA70 8EJ) – open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday for walk-ins between 10am and 4pm. Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines available.
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Operation Elegant: Eight sentenced to 40 years after police break up drugs gang

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EIGHT people have been jailed as part of an organised crime gang which trafficked cocaine worth almost £200,000 into Llanelli over a five-month period.

Dyfed-Powys Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Team dismantled the gang which was transporting the class ‘A’ drug between Swansea, Pontarddulais and Llanelli in a covert operation named ‘Operation Elegant’.

The operation resulted in more than 2kg of cocaine being supplied by the gang.

Nine defendants, including one who will be sentenced at a later date, admitted their involvement in the conspiracy to supply cocaine between May and October 2020. The eight sentenced so far have  been jailed for a total of 40 years.

Detective Constable Mark Jones, Op Elegant lead officer, said: “This was a lengthy operation involving a number of departments across the force, who investigated intelligence, coordinated a series of warrants, interviewed the defendants and carried out detailed enquiries into their activity.

“Today’s sentencing culminates more than a year of police work, which saw the disruption of a major supply chain into Llanelli and the dismantling of an organised crime gang, which was no doubt linked to illegal behaviour on a wider scale.”

DC Jones explained that the Llanelli gang was headed up by 27-year-old Shaun Hearne, who put together a team of trusted associates to move, store, prepare and distribute cocaine throughout Llanelli.

When restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the availability of the drug, Hearne was not deterred, and approached 25-year-old Aaron Hookway, a Swansea dealer, to source it.

This proved successful, as enquiries revealed the gang bought drugs from upstream supplier Hookway on 13 occasions, using 36-year-old Rebecca Viola’s home in Felinfoel as a stash house to store the commodity.

From there, couriers and sub-dealers Laura Coelho, Neville Ayres, Jordan Dale Parry, Keiran Price and Daniel Rhodri Evans were responsible for distributing the drugs.

“Through our investigation, we discovered that the gang was made up of a number of people acting as couriers and sub-dealers in various areas across Llanelli, directed by Hearne,” DC Jones said.

“Our first step in disrupting their activity was in stopping a car driven by Neville Ayres on 1st September, 2020, during which uniformed officers seized 10 ounces of cocaine.

“Ayres was a trusted employee of Hearne, who had such a blasé attitude towards his illegal behaviour that he had this huge amount of cocaine – worth more than £22,000 – in plain sight in the footwell of his car”.

“Despite this upset, the gang continued with their activity for another month, when we targeted all members with 15 warrants carried out across Llanelli.”

The week-long enforcement phase saw 13 people arrested, with searches also carried out at homes in Swansea, Ceredigion and Cornwall.

Nine of those arrested were charged with being involved in a conspiracy to supply cocaine. All nine admitted the offence, and eight of them received the following sentences on Monday 6th September 2021 and Tuesday 7th September 2021 at Swansea Crown Court:

  • Head of Llanelli gang Shaun Hearne, aged 27, of Isgraig, Burry Port: 8 years 8 months.
  • Swansea ‘upstream’ dealer Aaron Hookway, aged 25, of Station Road, Fforestfach: 9 years.
  • Courier and Hearne’s partner Laura Coelho, aged 28, of Bond Avenue, Llanelli: 2 years 5 months.
  • Llanelli courier and sub-dealer Neville Ayres, aged 42, of West End, Llanelli: 4 years 9 months.
  • Felinfoel storage and sub-dealer Rebecca Viola, aged 36, of Cae Glas, Llanelli: 4 years.
  • Llanelli sub-dealer Jordan Dale Parry, aged 25, of Dilwyn Street, Llanelli: 3 years 4 months.
  • Llanelli courier Keiran Price, aged 28, of Tirgoff, Llangennech: 4 years 10 months.
  • Llwynhendy sub-dealer Daniel Rhodri Evans, aged 29, of Heol Elfed, Llanelli: 3 years.

The ninth, Llanelli courier Jeffrey Parker-Ward, aged 23, of Stepney Street, will be sentenced at a later date.

As part of the operation, a number of high-value vehicles were seized, along with £11,000 in cash.

Further work is now being carried out as part of a proceeds of crime act investigation, aimed at confiscating criminal assets gained through illegal activities.

“The sentences of a total of 40 years in prison is a testament to the work that was put into this investigation,” DC Jones said.

“Not only have we taken a substantial amount of cocaine out of the supply chain, but we have disrupted the supply into Llanelli, where it would have caused an untold amount of harm to the community.

“I would like to thank all officers involved for their hard work, determination and commitment with HH Judge Rees commenting that the investigation was commendably executed. I would like to reassure the public that we will continue to act on all concerns over drugs use and abuse.”

BCU Commander for Carmarthenshire Gary Phillips said: “The sentences handed out at Swansea Crown Court are not only a reflection of the significant effort that has been put into this police investigation, but they also send a clear message that being involved in serious and organised crime in Carmarthenshire will ultimately lead to you being targeted by police and put before the courts.”

To report suspicious behaviour in your community, visit https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, email 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or call 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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