THE likely source of the fly infestation in Llanelli has finally been found almost 5 weeks after the first alarm bells were ringing out in the town.
Carmarthenshire County Council’s environmental health officers, working with independent pest experts, believe they have traced the issue to a recycling plant in the vicinity of the residential area affected.
Although there will be a huge sigh of relief breathed by those poor long suffering residents of Llanelli there will surely be a lot of questions asked of the authority given that the source was metaphorically speaking under their noses.
We wrote to the County Council on Tuesday (May 29) with a number of questions regarding what they were doing about the infestation and where they were centering their investigations. In a statement executive board member for public protection, Cllr Philip Hughes, said:
“Our environmental health officers have visited the area and carried out extensive enquiries however nothing has, as yet, come to light that would explain the reasons for the infestation. They are continuing to monitor the area. If you have specific information that might help their enquiries, we’d encourage you to send details to firstname.lastname@example.org”
A number of residents had previously pointed out that this particular recycling plant was a potential source as did Llanelli Online when we visited the area on Thursday (May 31).
Listen to our encounter with council officials just yards from the recycling plant.
Within a few minutes of sitting in a car outside the plant, the car was full of flies.
On the same day (May 31) we wrote to the County Council and we asked:
Have the council inspected some of the places, which would be associated with flies such as the recycling depot?
We received yet another sound bite from the executive board member for public protection, Cllr Philip Hughes, who said:
“Our environmental health officers have visited the area and carried out extensive enquiries however nothing has, as yet, come to light that would explain the reasons for the infestation.
“They are continuing to monitor the area. If you have specific information that might help their enquiries, we’d encourage you to send details to email@example.com.”
The world’s leading expert on flies, Dr Erica McAlister said on the Jeremy Vine show that the flies liked humans and that it was a perfect storm with the maggots living off sewage and waste emerging with the heavy rain and heat. All this she said would cause faster life cycles of flies.
You are going to have to find the source. Until the larvae have been found these populations will keep happening. You do need the council to find out exactly what is going on. The idea that they could be in recycling cans she said was a ‘strong possibility’. Speaking about other possible sources she said: For the population explosion going on it does seem like either there is some massive problem going on such as sewage effluent or blocked drains.
On the 4th June, the executive board member for public protection, Cllr Philip Hughes said:
Officers have been to all the sites which have been identified by people as the possible cause of the problem and nothing has been found to date to identify the source.”
On the same day, we carried another article which gave three possible sources of the infestation:
A number of theories have been postulated online and via the media. There may have been an underground tank or pipes, which had been broken into thus releasing the flies. This was disputed by the council and Dwr Cymru who said that no major works were being carried out on the sewers in the area. Larvae may have been brought in to the area via cans for recycling at a nearby industrial premises. This was discounted by the council who said that their environmental officers had visited the site and were satisfied that this was not the source. Raw sewage spills or stored sewage. Some claimed that the cause may have been the backup of sewage in tanks or possible sewage spills into the estuary. Dwr Cymru disputed this and said that council environmental officers had also visited their sites and were satisfied that this was not the source.
At the public meeting on the 4th June, residents once more expressed their anger and frustration that the council had not turned up to the meeting. If they had, they may have heard further cries indicating that the recycling plant was the source of the infestation.
There is an old saying: ‘Where there’s muck, there’s brass, and were there’s flies, there’s usually sh**e’.
Following this latest debacle, there is no doubt that the sh**e will hit the proverbial fan when residents discover what appears to be the sheer disregard for their local knowledge.
When residents had taken to social media and gone on camera claiming that the source was the recycling plant, they appear to have been either ignored or simply not been taken seriously.
The residents of Llanelli will be relieved that the source of the fly infestation has been found, however some will be left with a bad taste in their mouth having suffered for a number of weeks and having incurred additional costs of purchasing electronic fly zappers, fly spray and fly swats to the point where the shops in Llanelli had sold out.
The council statement today said:
As a precaution, the area is being spray-treated under the supervision of environmental health officers and advice is being given to the company. It may take a few days for the treatment to take effect. It is one of a number of potential sources that officers have investigated in the past week following complaints from residents. The council has put additional resources in place to help resolve the issue, including extra staff and external pest control experts, which identified them as a common house fly. Officers have been visiting homes and businesses premises across the area to gather information and offer advice and support. Support will continue to be made available to vulnerable people, in particular older people and people with disabilities and medical conditions, should they require it.
Cllr Philip Hughes, executive board member for public protection, said:
“We are confident, following extensive enquiries, that we have now located the source of the problem.
“We are working with our experts to treat the area with immediate effect and hope that this will resolve the problem for residents.
“We will of course work with the company to ensure that there is no repeat of this situation which has been unpleasant and upsetting for many people.”
He added: “I am grateful to residents for helping us with our enquiries, and our staff who have worked tirelessly to deal with this issue.”
Whilst treatment is underway, residents are being reminded of basic hygiene advice, which is to keep food in containers and in the refrigerator, to clean work surfaces, keep windows closed when possible and to treat areas with household pesticides.
John Prosser and Louvain Roberts, county councillors for the heavily affected Glanymor ward of Llanelli, issued a joint statement in response to the news:
“It is good to hear that the most likely source of the flies has been found and is now being dealt with.
“Many people in Glanymor have suffered hugely as a result of this recent infestation. This is the second year running that we’ve had bad problems with flies in our area. We now hope and expect the source of the flies to be stamped out quickly, and that action will be taken to stop this happening again.
“We would like to thank the Council officers and staff who have been working hard to tackle the fly infestation, as well as the experts who were brought in to identify the cause of the problem. We’re told that the emergency phone number will remain open till at least the beginning of next week, so anyone who continues to be affected by the flies should contact the Council immediately on 01267 234567.
“We as your local councillors will always be on hand to help and raise any particular issues or cases with the Council.”
Responding to the announcement, Nia Griffith MP said:
“Identifying the likely source of the flies is an important step, but this problem needs to be dealt with straight away. People should not have to tolerate flies in their homes for a second longer. The Council must do everything it can to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
“Although the fly infestation spread to many areas of Llanelli, the Glanymor ward has been particularly badly hit. I would to thank the local county councillors John Prosser and Louvain Roberts for the work they’ve done in raising this issue and pressing the Council for swift action.”
“This fly infestation has caused so much misery, frustration, stress and expense to all of us who live in the community. It has affected everyone, from our young people to our elderly, working people and those who have medical conditions. I thank everyone in the community for being so pro-active during this difficult time.”We thank the authorities for the practical and financial assistance that they have provided on the ground so far. Our community must now continue to be supported, advice given to residents and all of us need to be kept up to date with the latest situation.