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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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Denial of Wales-specific Covid inquiry ‘no longer tenable’ say Welsh Conservatives

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THE WELSH CONSERVATIVES have reiterated their call for an inquiry that focuses exclusively on the actions of the Welsh Government in tackling coronavirus in a letter to the First Minister.

It was prompted after it was revealed that the Welsh Government have been aware that NHS Wales was not prepared for an airborne virus as far back as 2004, following the SARS outbreak. Despite committing to an audit and allocation to rectify the lack of isolation facilities, this did not materialise.

The letter from Andrew RT Davies MS, which states “decision made in Wales should be scrutinised in Wales” follows a weekend when Mark Drakeford was keen to highlight that his government had “always taken a different approach in Wales [compared to the British Government], one that does things step-by-step”.

Concerned: Andrew RT Davies

In the letter, the Welsh Conservatives leader questions why, despite him stressing divergences in the approach to coronavirus, the First Minister still feels it “inappropriate to separate” from the British Government “when the time comes for accountability”.

The Labour Government policy is for its actions to be included in the UK-wide inquiry that will chiefly investigate the actions of the Conservative Government. There will be a Scotland-specific inquiry after Nicola Sturgeon commissioned one.

Joining the Welsh Conservatives in their calls for a Wales-specific inquiry are the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Group, the British Lung Foundation, Medics 4 Mask Up Wales, the Institute for Welsh Affairs, and Plaid Cymru.

Commenting on the letter, Andrew RT Davies MS said: “The position of exercising wide-ranging emergency powers that curtailed the liberty and closed the economy of the Welsh people but avoiding accountability through an inquiry that focusses on how those decisions were made is no longer tenable.

“Under Mark Drakeford, Wales has experienced the highest Covid death-rate of UK nations, seen its children lose more time for learning than anywhere else in the country, and imposed economically cruel and clinically unnecessary restrictions in an overzealous attempt to tackle the Omicron variant.

“We, along with bereaved families and medical groups, believe that the decisions that led to these outcomes need to be put under the spotlight, not hidden in the shadow of an inquiry that will inevitably focus on the British Government.

“Indeed, if Mark Drakeford is so confident in the actions of his government, then why is he against having them examined in a Wales-specific inquiry? That is what people will be asking when British and Scottish leaders have ordered investigations into their own handling of the pandemic.

“As I say to the First Minister in my letter, it is not too late for him to change his mind and take this opportunity to do the right thing and order that inquiry.”

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Llanelli Rotary Christmas appeal to be match-funded by Swansea Building Society

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Llanelli Rotary Club Christmas Appeal 2022

THE LLANELLI Rotary Club Christmas appeal, which sees the club raise funds for local charities each year, will see its total donations double thanks to match-funding from Swansea Building Society.

The building society helps its staff raise charitable funds each year as part of its commitment to its members and the local communities it serves. It regards this as a direct part of its mutual status – a status that means it is owned by its members.

The ongoing pandemic and emerging new variant meant that the club arranged for Santa Claus to make Covid-friendly house visits to children prior to Christmas. This was the second year that Santa has made such house visits as an alternative to the Santa’s Grotto previously organised by the Rotary Club.

This year’s appeal visited 295 households in the Llanelli area and met 622 children to confirm the letters they had written to Santa. The funds raised from these visits, coupled with Rotary members collecting at Parc Trostre, Llanelli Carnival and the Llanelli Reindeer Parade, amounted to £5,774.

This amount will be generously match-funded by Swansea Building Society, bringing the total donation to £11,548 and this will be split between the four charities chosen by Llanelli Rotary this year: Ty Hafan, Wales Air Ambulance, Latch and Ysgol Heol Goffa.

Alison Evans, Llanelli Rotary Club Secretary, said: “Despite the ongoing difficulties, the Llanelli Rotary Club Christmas appeal has been a great success again this year. Thanks to Santa, the Rotarians, and the volunteers that helped us, we were able to put a smile on hundreds of children’s faces, whilst raising a considerable sum for four very worthwhile charities. We give great thanks to all those who donated to the appeal in the run-up to Christmas, and special thanks to Swansea Building Society for its generous match funding.”

Ieuan Griffiths, Swansea Building Society Chair and Llanelli Rotary Club member, added: “Our annual Christmas appeal is always a joyful and rewarding experience for all concerned – worth the significant effort involved just to see the childrens’ faces and reactions. We are very pleased that Santa has been able to help whilst checking out chimneys and magic keys. This year the Rotary Club has again raised considerable funds, and, with the help of Swansea Building Society’s match funding, this year’s charities will receive sizable donations. I extend my thanks to everyone who helped and all who donated.”

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BBC Wales Investigates: Death of Two Black Men: Police in the Spotlight

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TONIGHT 24/1/22, 7.30pm, BBC One Wales

THE FAMILIES of two men who died within weeks of each other after incidents involving Welsh police forces have spoken for the first time of their fight for justice.

Mohamud Hassan, 24, and Mouayed Bashir, 29, died within weeks of each other in separate incidents after coming into contact with the police.

Both their deaths sparked protests  – in Cardiff and Newport –  as family, friends and people in their communities expressed concerns about the circumstances of their deaths.

In January last year, police were called to the shared house in Roath, Cardiff, where Mohamud lived in a basement flat. Police arrested him on suspicion of a breach of the peace; he spent the night in a cell at Cardiff Bay police station; and was released the next morning without charge.

He saw his aunt, Zainab Hassan, and uncle, Sulieman Mohamed, after he was released.

“He came over to our house. As soon as I opened the door – literally I was shocked,” said Sulieman.

“His upper lip was completely opened. He had blood all over his top, his track-suit bottoms.”

Zainab added: “He had bruises on his arms. On his torso when he lifted his jumper, all you could see was just marks – red, black even. It was shocking.”

“I said nephew what happened to you? He’s like it’s the police. I said how and why? He said “I dunno uncle”,” said Sulieman.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct is investigating his death and the actions of six officers are being examined for alleged misconduct.

A post mortem examination failed to establish the cause of Mr Hassan’s death. The IOPC says its investigation is nearing completion; and his inquest is due to take place in May 2023.

South Wales Police said it was unable to comment on specific points due to the ongoing IOPC investigation, which it says it is fully co-operating with. It also acknowledged the impact of Mr Hassan’s death on his family, friends and wider community; and said their thoughts and condolences are with them.

Mouayed Bashir died after police came to his house in Maesglas, Newport, in February 2021. His family say they were trying to get an ambulance to attend because Mouayed was having a mental health crisis – but instead the police arrived.

“He was expecting paramedics, but instead police officers in black uniform with brutal force coming in,” said Mouayed’s brother, Mohannad Bashir.

Mohamud Hassan, 24, and Mouayed Bashir, 29, died within weeks of each other in separate incidents after coming into contact with the police.

Mouayed had been stabbed three weeks before his death; and when police came to his home he still had a large, deep wound to his leg.

Mohannad added: “When the police restrained him they handcuffed him, they bound his legs and thighs. My dad was saying to the police officers “he’s already wounded. He’s bleeding again from his thigh. Please let go of his handcuffs and let go of his legs.”

A post mortem examination failed to establish Mouayed Bashir’s cause of death. The IOPC says it’s finalising its investigation into his death; and its publication will depend on discussions with the coroner. His inquest is due to be held in July.

Gwent Police said it was unable to address specific questions until  the conclusion of the IOPC investigation and inquest. It pointed out that no officers have been served misconduct notices.

The force also said a risk assessment is carried out when receiving a 999 call and police officers may be asked to support paramedics. The ambulance service said it was sorry its response fell below the expectations of the Bashir family.

Mouayed Bashir’s family are planning to mark the anniversary of his death next month in Newport.

Mohannad said: “If we don’t fight and stand up for other people, for what happened to Mouayed, there’s just going to be another case. We want to do our part. We want to do this for the sake of Mouayed as well.”

The family of Mohamud Hassan will have to wait another 16 months to find out the full facts of his death.

“I can’t remember anything else about my nephew. All those lovely memories I had of him, it’s like they’ve gone. They’ve been wiped out. And I don’t have any answers. I don’t think any words can describe the pain.”

Watch BBC Wales Investigates: Death of Two Black Men: Police in the Spotlight on BBC One Wales at 19:30 GMT on Monday 24 January and afterwards on BBC iPlayer.

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