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Kerosene spill response ‘at best organised chaos’

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L to R: Elwyn Williams, Emlyn Dole, amd Alun Lenny

L to R: Elwyn Williams, Emlyn Dole, amd Alun Lenny

THE RESPONSE by Valero and NRW to a large-scale oil leak at Nantycaws was described by local County Councillor Elwyn Williams as ‘at best organised chaos, at worst total incompetence’, during a council meeting on Wednesday (Oct 12).

NRW were represented at the meeting and Valero had been invited to send representatives to ask questions put by members. However, Council Leader Emlyn Dole said that the company had responded by letter saying that they would ‘not be able to send representatives at this time’.

Cllr Dole said that it was important to bring this matter for discussion and raise relevant questions which needed to be answered, following the 140,000 litre spill and the damage that had caused to the local environment.

He told councillors that a letter from Lesley Griffiths AM, the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, had been received by Adam Price AM and Jonathan Edwards MP.

Cllr Dole pointed out that, while the pipe had been closed to prevent any further leakage, concerns remained about the kerosene remaining in the pipe.

Referring to the planned closure of both sides of the A48 this weekend for repairs, Cllr Dole said: “We know the problems closing one side have caused to local businesses,” and pointed out that the A48 was a Pan-European highway.

In a letter to Valero, Cllr Dole asked when the company had become aware that the pipeline was leaking, and when NRW had been informed.

He remarked that, while Valero had apologised, an apology ‘means nothing in the context of this incident, and the effect it has had on local people’.

In Valero’s response, which Cllr Dole quoted, the company stated that their ‘highly sensitive pressure system’ had detected the leak at 9.30am on Tuesday, October 4, and had instantly shut the pipeline down and informed on-site response teams and the emergency services.

NRW had been informed around 70 minutes later, once the on-site teams assessed the situation.

Valero added that work had been ongoing to recover the kerosene and fix the leak, and described the amount of kerosene recovered as ‘a testimony to the efforts’ of those involved.

However, a somewhat different picture was painted by Llangunnor County Councillor Elwyn Williams. In addition to his remarks about the quality of the response, he suggested that residents had noticed a smell of oil on the Monday night, rather than Tuesday.

Cllr Williams also attacked Valero for closing the pipeline at a valve 10 miles away from where the leak was, rather than at a valve within a mile of the problem.

He also claimed that a camera crew had been told to stop filming near the site due to the risk of an explosion, but children living even closer to the incident had not been evacuated.

The traffic management put in place following the spill was described as ‘almost non-existent’ and where it did exist, as ‘a liability’.

In terms of supporting local farmers affected by the leak, Cllr Williams claimed that this amounted to ‘a promise of cattle food for one farmer, which was withdrawn the following day’.

He suggested that the fault had been caused by encasing the pipe in tonnes of concrete, rather than a closed chamber, where it passed under the A48, and that efforts to remove this concrete had led to the leak.

Carmarthen Town and County Councillor Alun Lenny said that the original road closure, coupled with the leak, had led to ‘a miserable period for traffic in Carmarthen’, adding that traffic was now backed up as far as Glangwili along Priory Street during busy times – which could affect emergency response vehicles.

Cllr Lenny added that he had approached Valero to ask why the works could not take place round the clock – only to be told that this would disturb the local ecology. He remarked that the traffic issues were not helped by a local farmer – incredibly – still crossing a large herd of cattle on the B road that traffic was diverted along.

He concluded his remarks by asking the council to call on Valero to financially compensate Llangunnor and Carmarthen, suggesting that a six-figure sum would be appropriate.

Huwel Manley, the operations manager for NRW in the west of Wales, clarified that the regulation of the pipeline was the responsibility of the Health and Safety Executive, and added that there would be ‘a large-scale investigation into this tragic incident’.

Mr Manley said that NRW were on-site at Nantycaws at around 1pm on Tuesday, and that at that point there had been some difficulty ascertaining where the leak had come from.

Cllr Colin Evans asked whether the source of the leak had actually been located yet, and following on from concerns raised by Cllr Williams about which valve had been closed, asked how far apart the sensors were. Chief Executive Mark James pointed out that no one at the meeting was qualified to answer these questions, and Cllr Evans replied that he thought the point of the discussion was to raise questions which could be asked by the council at a later stage.

Cllr Lenny then proposed that the council write to Valero asking for compensation, which would be distributed to Community Councils in the affected areas. In addition, he asked that the company should compensate the farmer, ensuring that cows were not crossed on the diversion route, especially during the coming weekend.

This was unanimously agreed.

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Carmarthenshire’s sensory garden: why locals should embrace this wellness trend

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WITH ‘#sensorygarden’ 499.1k views on TikTok – locals have the advantage of experiencing a sensory garden on their doorstep at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Wildlife experts explain why you should visit.

Wildlife expert Sean McMenemy shares how sensory gardens can do wonders for our wellness whilst providing a safe haven for wildlife and encourages Carmarthenshire locals to visit their local sensory garden this autumn.

A sensory garden is an outdoor space that stimulates the five senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste, and can be created in your own garden. Sensory gardens at home remain relatively rare, but the trend is growing with the TikTok hashtag ‘#sensorygarden’ amassing 499.1k views*. 

Carmarthenshire, dubbed the Garden of Wales, has a huge array of beautiful green spaces to explore. It’s home to the National Botanic Garden of Wales which spans a huge 568 acres, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The stunning Great Glasshouse features a sensory trail that explores the largest single-span greenhouse in the world! From fluffy flowers from South Africa to a strongly scented Australian plant, it’ll engage all your senses. 

Having recently gifted King Charles with a beautiful oak sapling, the National Botanic Garden of Wales care deeply about the nation’s natural heritage. For those visiting the garden, the paths are wheelchair accessible with manual wheelchairs available on site. Open 10am – 6pm every day of the week.

Wildlife expert and founder of bird food provider Ark Wildlife, Sean McMenemy, explains the benefits of sensory gardening: “Sensory gardens provide a great deal of physical and mental benefits for different people and purposes. From getting vitamin D from sunlight to improving physical fitness by maintaining a garden, there are several physical benefits. Mentally, you can benefit from a mood boost and relaxation by spending time surrounded by calming stimulation.

“Sensory gardens can also have huge benefits for children, older people, those with learning disabilities and those who struggle with their physical and mental health. You can also create a sensory garden for your pets and garden wildlife!”

Top tips for creating your own sensory garden

If you do have the outdoor space, creating your own sensory garden is therapeutic in itself and doesn’t need to be a complicated process. The most important thing is to ensure that the garden engages all five senses. 

Melody Estes, landscape design gardening supervisor, says: “Whether you’re new to gardening or a seasoned pro, you can always improve your garden by adding some sensory elements.” 

Here are some tips from Melody for creating a sensory garden:

Sight – Plant colourful flowers that change with the seasons.

Sound – If you have a fountain or water feature on your property, consider adding some relaxing music to play alongside it. You could also place chimes near your front door to welcome people in.

Smell – Use scent. Consider planting scented flowers or herbs like lavender, rosemary and thyme that will give off a lovely aroma when they bloom.

Touch – Mix textures. The texture of plants can be as important as their colour and shape. Try using plants with soft leaves like ferns or grasses that are texturally different.

Taste – Planting herbs, fruits and vegetables not only provide tasty treats, but is a sustainable source of food.

Sean McMenemy adds: “Sensory gardens are an easy way to engage with wildlife and the outdoor environment. Growing your own plants and vegetables provides countless ways to learn about the natural world.

“You can bring your sensory garden to life by using bird feeders to attract beautiful feathered friends into your garden. They’ll bring the sound element to your sensory garden naturally. Fragrant flowers will attract colourful butterflies and other pollinators to your garden, giving you something to observe whilst helping nature to thrive.”

Some people may not have the time, money or space to create their own sensory garden. However, those with balconies and window ledges can still plant colourful, sweet-smelling flowers and edible plants. This mini sensory garden can still provide the benefits and satisfaction of an outdoor garden.

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Prince and Princess of Wales to visit Wales

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THE PRINCE and Princess of Wales have planned a trip to Wales to visit a variety of communities across the nation and learn about the work of key charitable organisations. 

The Prince and Princess have a deep affection for Wales, having made their first family home in Anglesey, and have thoroughly enjoyed their previous visits and the warmth and kindness shown by the Welsh people. 

Their Royal Highnesses are looking forward to spending more time in Wales over the next few years, they hope to strengthen their relationship with communities in all parts of Wales. 

During their first engagement, Their Royal Highnesses will visit the RNLI Holyhead Lifeboat Station, where they will meet crew, volunteers and some people who have been supported by their local unit.

Holyhead is one of the three oldest lifeboat stations on the Welsh coast and has a remarkable history of bravery, having received 70 awards for gallantry. 

Their Royal Highnesses will then take a short walk to the Holyhead Marine and Cafe Bar, where they will meet local people, including representatives of small businesses and organisations, including the Coastguard and Sea Cadets. 

In their second engagement, the Prince and Princess of Wales are expected to visit Swansea. 

Their Royal Highnesses will visit St Thomas Church, a re-developed church in Swansea which supports people in the local area and across the City and County of Swansea. 

Over the last two years the church has been transformed into a thriving community hub and is home to a vast array of services, including:

  • A foodbank which supports over 200 people per week
  • Swansea Baby Basics which distributes essential items for vulnerable mothers across the city, such as toiletries and clothes
  • Facilities for the homeless including food, showers and toilets
  • A not-for-profit cafe and community training kitchen
  • A surplus food distribution network which collects food from supermarkets at the end of each day and distributes it from the church to prevent food waste and to help end food poverty

As part of their visit, Their Royal Highnesses will meet those volunteering at the church across different initiatives including Baby Basics and the foodbank. Their Royal Highnesses will also spend some time meeting members of the public gathered outside the church. 

The Princess of Wales has previously worked with Baby Banks and the in summer of 2020 brought together 19 British brands and retailers to donate over 10,000 new items to more than 40 baby banks nationwide, operated by Baby Basics, Little Village and AberNecessities. 

Her Royal Highness has visited a number of baby banks across the UK, including in London, Sheffield and West Norfolk where she has spent time speaking with families about their experiences of using their local baby bank services, as well as helping unload donations. 

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Carmarthenshire farmer dies following attack by bull near Llandeilo

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A FARMER has died following an incident with a bull on a farm in Llandeilo.

The 58-year-old, named locally as Maldwyn Harrier, was attacked by the animal during a TB test on Friday morning.

Police have confirmed that they were called to a farm in the Penybanc area of Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, and are investigating alongside the Health and Safety Executive. 

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