Work has commenced to remove and replace 12,000 cubic metres of diesel-contaminated soil around the site of the Llangennech freight train fire that took place three months ago.
Being undertaken by specialist environmental contractors Adler and Allan and Jacobs, work will continue around the clock for the coming weeks to complete the work safely and as swiftly as possible.
Under the remediation plan, the contaminated site has been split into cells. Each cell will be carefully excavated, removing up to 30 cubic metres of affected soil at a time. It will be removed from the site by lorry and safely treated at a licenced waste management facility near Merthyr Tydfil.
The excavated areas will then be filled with clean quarried materials, specifically selected to match the pH levels of soils in the area, and the replacement railway line is expected to be put in place, if all goes to plan, early in the new year.
An area of woodland to the north east of the incident site on Coal Authority land will also be similarly restored.
Bill Kelly, Network Rail Wales route director, said: “We understand that the temporary closure of the railway line in Llangennech is a big inconvenience for local businesses, public travel and tourism but our teams are working extremely hard to get the line back up and running as soon as possible.
“We believe the decision we have made to remove more soil, deeper under the railway line is the right thing to do, as it will minimise any impact on the environment for future generations.
“The work involves more vehicles moving to and from the site, most of which will happen during the day, but we are trying to keep noise levels down as much as possible.
“We continue to be very grateful to the local community for their patience as we work to restore the railway.”
Ioan Williams, South West environment team leader for Natural Resources Wales, said:
“This is an extremely complex recovery operation. There has been careful and considered effort put into the remediation work plan by a wide range of organisations and individuals, and after considerable planning and preparation it is encouraging to see that work finally getting underway.
“We have had to plan for potential disruption to the surrounding land that excavation work could cause, the safe disposal of the affected soil as well as ensuring there are plans in place to continue with the containment of the diesel and ongoing monitoring of the surrounding environment and fisheries.
“We have also been working closely with the Coal Authority to establish the safest way possible to remove pollution from their land without compromising the mine water treatment lagoons, or risk any mine water escaping from the former Morlais Colliery.
“As a multi-agency group, we are confident that all the necessary steps are being taken to help this area recover safely from the pollution.”
“The Heart of Wales railway line, will remain closed until all remediation works are completed, which continues to have an impact on the public, businesses and tourism.”