There are fears for wildlife after a train carrying up to 1,000 tonnes of diesel derailed, causing an oil spill at a scientifically important site.
The freight train derailed and caught fire in Llangennech, Carmarthenshire on Wednesday evening.
Ten cars, containing up to 100 tonnes of diesel or gas oil, derailed and oil spilled into the Loughor Estuary.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) was unable to investigate the impact until the fire was extinguished.
The site of special scientific interest is home to wild birds and wading birds. NRW has previously said the derailment sent oil into the nearby Loughor River.
The Railway Accident Investigation Branch, which is examining the cause of the incident, said on Friday that 10 cars had derailed. In a statement, she said the derailment and damage to the rail cars “resulted in a large fuel spill and a major fire.” .
At the time of the incident, the freight trailer was carrying 25 tank cars each containing up to 100 tonnes of diesel or gas oil, ten of which derailed.
NRW’s Aneurin Cox said Thursday it was “not sure” for workers to get close enough to contain the spill while the fire was still burning.
The Central and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service finally extinguished the blaze around 8:30 a.m. BST on Friday, just over 33 hours after the train derailed.
‘It could have a devastating impact’
Loughor Estuary is part of the Carmarthen Bay and Estuaries Special Area of Conservation.
Richard Pryce, of the Llanelli Naturalists Group, said the diesel spill could have a “devastating impact” on the local environment.
He said: “The Loughor Estuary is a very important site for its birds. It is a European protection site, a special conservation area, which means it is of European importance due to the large populations. wild birds and waders.
“If oil were to spill into the estuary, it could have a devastating effect on birdlife.
“Diesel is very toxic to the environment, so wherever it gets dumped it can be a big problem.”
The region is also an important site for cockle pickers.
Robert Griffiths, of the Burry Inlet Handgatherers Association, told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast that the diesel spill would have a significant financial impact on him and other hull pickers.
He said, “If you don’t work, you can’t earn money to pay your mortgages and bills etc.”
The train was traveling from Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire to Theale, near Reading, when it derailed at 11:20 p.m. Wednesday night.
The ensuing fire caused 300 people in the vicinity of the crash site to be evacuated from their homes, before being allowed to return on Thursday.
The two crew members on the train were not injured.
The Railway Accident Investigation Directorate (RAIB) said it was conducting a preliminary examination and gathering evidence.
Why is the Loughor Estuary important?
- The Loughor River Estuary, with Burry Inlet to the west, is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest
- Its habitat of mudflats, salt marsh – the largest continuous area in Wales – and rock pools provide important wildlife habitat
- Species of wading birds and waterfowl include cupped oyster, curlew, lapwing, little egret, widgeon, dunlin, plover, and teal
- The estuary is known for its fishing grounds, for the tastes of plaice, bass and mullet
- Further west, the hull beds of Burry Inlet are well known, the industry being the third largest in Britain
- In this same area is the WWT Llanelli Wetlands Center, a popular spot for wading birds and wild birds, and the 450 acres of land.
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