A plaque has been unveiled to mark one year since a train derailed in Llangennech.
The incident saw a freight train derail and spill 350,000 litres of diesel. The fire it caused could be seen from miles away and about 300 people living in the west Wales village had to be evacuated from their homes.
Firefighters took almost two days to extinguish the blaze. During this time, the local community worked together to offer emergency shelter and food.
The plaque, made by Llanelli stonemason Ben Thomas, was unveiled at the station by representatives of those involved in the recovery operation. They included Network Rail, Natural Resources Wales, Transport for Wales, Adler and Allan, British Transport Police (representing all emergency services) with Nia Griffith, Labour MP for Llanelli, and councillor Gwyneth Thomas for the Llangennech ward also part of the ceremony.
Following the incident there was an extensive environmental recovery operation, led by Natural Resources Wales. Six months later, 30,000 tonnes of fuel-soaked soil had been excavated from beneath more than 150 metres of railway track – preventing lasting environmental impact and protecting the local landscape.
The railway re-opened in March 2021, following the installation of new track and signalling equipment replacing that which was damaged in the incident.
Natural Resources Wales, which considered this to be the biggest marine incident since the Sea Empress disaster of 1996, continues to regularly monitor the environment, to track progress and ensure the cockles and shellfish harvested from the Bury Inlet remain safe.
Bill Kelly, Wales & Borders route director at Network Rail said: “It’s important we recognise the part everyone played in responding to the immediate aftermath of the derailment, the massive environmental recovery operation and restoration of the railway.
“We must also remember how frightening this was for the people locally who, despite being uprooted from their homes, rallied around, provided food and shelter – supporting each other through the toughest of times.
“The community showed incredible bravery, support and patience. One year on, we have returned to say a huge thank you to them.”
Martyn Evans, head of south west operations, Natural Resources Wales, said: “Natural Resources Wales coordinated the Llangennech recovery operation, and thanks to the committed response from our partner organisations, we worked together effectively to prevent an environmental disaster.
“The team consisted of dedicated, highly skilled and determined individuals working together around the clock to meticulously plan and implement a complex recovery operation.
“Remembering, too, that the incident was managed safely during COVID, with social distancing rules in place and when all incident management & emergency resources were already stretched.”