The row over the county council’s plans to build a new school on Llanerch Field at the site of an enormous sewage tank has spilled over into an online spat between the elected AM for Llanelli Lee Waters and Plaid Cymru’s Simon Thomas.
Lee Waters posted a photograph of the diggers at Llanerch field on his twitter page and tweeted ‘Here’s Plaids commitment to protecting green spaces’.
Simon Thomas tweeted back ‘I didn’t know Plaid Cymru had diggers but good of you to confirm you oppose a new 21st century school in Llanelli’.
Enter Bill Thomas, former mayor of Llanelli, former county councillor and local expert on the sewer system in Llanelli. Bill Thomas is well known for his long campaign to protect the Burry Inlet and for trying to safeguard the livelihoods of the cockle gatherers. He has fought for and won a battle in the European Courts at which the European Court of Justice found the UK to be in breach of EU laws over the amount of sewage and waste water discharged into the sea off Carmarthenshire.
Bill Thomas compiled a comprehensive list of documentation relating to the sewage works in and around Llanelli including a report sent to the then Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing Jane Davidson, which clearly states that the tank undergrounds at Llanerch is indeed a tank for storing solids, i.e for want of a better word, sh**e and lots of it.
The process of installing the sewage tanks was well documented by Dwr Cymru and the county council. Bill Thomas worked alongside a number of the organisations involved including Dwr Cymru and the Environment Agency. Bill wrote a comprehensive report following his organised visits to various sites around Llanelli accompanied by Welsh Water Personnel, Environment Agency Personnel, the Llanelli M.P. and members of the Flood Forum and additional participation by contractors on site at Llanelli Waste.
Speaking to Llanelli Online following the revelations of the tweets by Plaid Cymru’s AM Simon Thomas the former mayor of Llanelli and county councillor said: “I was involved from the beginning. Morrisons the contractors showed us all the plans and showed us all the combined sewers Llanelli has and that tank at Llanerch is a combined sewage tank (surface water and sewage). It is written clearly on the plan.
“It was meant to be flushed by water coming from the road. They tried it but it turned to sludge instead. It didn’t work. The intention was that it was meant to separate the sewage but it didn’t work. If Simon Thomas is saying that is not a sewage tank he is either an idiot or he is deliberately lying.
“That is why they are doing all the work now to take all the water away from the combined sewer. The one in Pwll was blocked off and it built up and the wall of the church fell over.”
Bill Thomas sent us the photographs and drawings as well as documents, which were sent to and from the then Minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing Jane Davidson and people involved in trying to safeguard the Burry Inlet from pollution from raw sewage.
On page 19 of the report: Report on site visits to Welsh Water establishment in Llanelli on Friday 5th February 2010 and the possible consequences of new proposed sewage treatment. Arranged by Andy Irving Environment Agency It clearly states:
There are also two very large newly constructed underground storage tanks one in the West at Pwll and one in the North East at Llanerch which we were informed during the consultation process by Welsh Water Contractors Morrison’s, are designed to hold back solids and let dirty water go. This being the case a second flush of concentrated sewage enters the sewage system at some point during inclement weather. These storage tanks are under a park and a football field the approximate length and width being that of the football field. Some Welsh Water personnel have claimed the tanks work the other way around and hold back the water letting the concentrated sewage go first. This being the case it makes matters far worst as this concentrated sewage is many miles away from the Northumberland storage tanks and will take some considerable time to reach the new treatment facility at Northumberland place. The consequence of this is that the storage tanks are full, and this collection point for the agglomeration it serves is simply overwhelmed and the sewage is sent out to sea with very little treatment. Northumberland Place experienced.
The tank was installed long before Dwr Cymru began its Rainscape schemes, which seek to manage the amount of surface water entering the sewer systems. The logic of placing a massive tank for storing rainwater directly adjacent to the river Lliedi is something not even the most idiotic engineer would contemplate.
We contacted Simon Thomas for a comment regarding his claims that the tank is a rainwater storage tank. We asked him on what basis he was contradicting Dwr Cymru’s own plans, which clearly identify the tanks as a combined sewage and gravity fed sewage tank. We also asked him if he had any evidence to support his claims. We asked the AM if he would retract his claim and set the record straight for the public of Llanelli and Carmarthenshire if he could not support his claim. As yet we have not received a response. We will of course update the article as and when the AM responds.