A county councillor who represents the Llangennech ward has praised the swift and effective response of the multiple agencies involved in the immediate aftermath of a train derailment just on the outskirts of Llangennech.
Speaking to Llanelli Online today, Tuesday (Sep 1) County Councillor Gary Jones said he was continuing to liaise with the agencies involved at the site. Cllr Jones said: “I was extremely impressed by the way the emergency services, Network Rail and Natural Resources Wales responded to the incident.”
Cllr Jones said that he will be asking some questions regarding the continuation of transporting fuel along the line. He praised Dyfed-Powys Police for their swift action and help in evacuating some 200 residents to the local community hall.
He said: “We struggled to get it all organised as we had just about finished getting the hall back in use after Covid-19. We had no water and so we contacted McDonalds in Llanelli. I have to thank the night manager who made sure everyone was supplied with teas and coffees. It was a difficult time for some and there was a lot of uncertainty.”
“It could have been a lot worse, thankfully the incident happened far enough away from the mass of homes. An area of around 800 metres was evacuated.”
One local resident said that when they left their home they were not sure if they would ever return to their property, fearing the worse, that a gas pipeline or underground mine had exploded.
Cllr Jones said that he would be looking into the possibility of compensating the community for the damage and disruption. He said: “People could smell the fumes for days afterwards. It was decided, not to put up air pollution monitors at the time.” Several agencies continue to work together on a recovery operation following the derailment of a freight train near Llangennech on Wednesday, August 26, 2020.
The derailment and damage to a number of wagons caused a significant spillage of diesel in the surrounding area, as well as a major fire.
Following the initial emergency response and subsequent investigations, Natural Resources Wales is now leading efforts to contain the diesel and minimise damage to the marine environment around the Loughor Estuary.
Carmarthenshire County Council continues to play a key role in the multi-agency response to the incident.
Members of the public, including residents of Llangennech and those affected by the incident, are encouraged to follow updates via Natural Resources Wales, which includes advice about coming into contact with diesel and what is happening in the Llangennech and Loughor Estuary area as the operations continue.
Andrew Kibble of Public Health Wales said: “It is unlikely that anyone exposed to the diesel for a short period of time will have any adverse health effects, but it is still sensible to avoid contact with diesel or the water in contaminated areas.
“Diesel can produce vapours which are odorous. Odours are generally noticeable at concentrations well below those that cause harm, but high concentrations can cause dizziness, drowsiness and headaches. If you encounter odours move away from the area and into fresh air.
“If anyone gets diesel on their skin, they should remove any affected clothing and wash using soap and water and if they feel unwell seek medical attention.
“We would also advise that all pets are kept out of contact with the diesel and that members of the public do not pick up any birds or other animals affected by diesel from the shoreline.”
Recovery of the freight transporter units involved in last week’s incident will begin tomorrow, Wednesday September 2. Specialist road haulage vehicles will be used for transportation, taking a route along Heol Y Parc, Station Road and onto the B4297 Pontarddulais Road to the A4138 and on to the M4.
Carmarthenshire County Council are asking for your cooperation in ensuring the safe movement of these large vehicles, and ask for your cooperation in moving parked vehicles along the eastern side of this route (and on the western side along some bends and junctions) from 7am and 8pm from tomorrow morning until September 9. Dyfed-Powys Police will be assisting in ensuring the route is free from obstruction. Traffic cones will be put in place, and the council will be visiting affected properties to deliver detailed information.
The council said: “We appreciate that this is short notice, however this is a complex and fast-moving operation involving a number of agencies – your help and patience is greatly appreciated.”
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.
The Wales Environment Group has convened and is working to actively monitor and model the wider impact on the environment and public health. This information is used to guide the actions of organisations in minimising the off-site impacts on people and nature.
The group is chaired by NRW and includes representatives from Public Health Wales, Food Standards Agency, Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Pembrokeshire local authorities, Welsh Government Fisheries Department, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), the RSPCA and Operators working at the site.
In a statement NRW said:
“Our marine monitoring team has been busy over the weekend in response to the diesel spill near Llangennech. They’ve been surveying to identify areas that have been oiled and taking samples of sediment to look at the impact on the wildlife of the Loughor Estuary. These photos were taken near the Loughor Bridge where the diesel has been found on the high tide mark and also within the surface sediments.
“The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has also carried out an aerial survey to help monitor the movement of the diesel around the estuary. Survey work is likely to continue for the next few weeks and will help identify areas that need to be cleaned up.
“Monitoring teams continue to carry out daily surveys around the Loughor Estuary, including around the local fisheries and bathing water sites.
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 Maritime and Coastguard Agency has undertaken aerial surveys to aid the monitoring of the pollution.
“Operators at the site are currently working to contain and remove diesel from the vicinity of the derailment and are drawing up longer term remediation plans to clean up the site and impacts of diesel in the wider estuary. 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.”
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.”