No-one to be prosecuted over Llangennech train derailment which saw large fires burning for days
Video report by ITV Wales reporter Hamish Auskerry
No further action is being taken into the Llangennech rail wagon derailment which saw hundreds of thousands of of litres of fuel spilled and large fires burning for days.
A Natural Resources Wales (NRW) investigation into the incident says there's not enough evidence for a successful conviction and it would be a "reckless use of public monies to pursue a prosecution."
The incident happened in August 2020, when a freight train derailed while travelling through the village of Llangennech, causing it to catch fire before spilling around 350,000 litres of diesel.
The investigation probed a number of different companies with a view to prosecuting those responsible for the environmental damage caused to the area.
However, the investigation concluded that there is no realistic prospect of conviction against any company or individual and therefore no charges will be brought against anyone in relation to the incident.
The major incident had a detrimental effect on an internationally protected site and impacted local businesses and tourism.
Shellfisheries were closed for seven weeks as a precaution following advice from the Food Standards Agency, while the section of railway line was closed for seven months.
Martyn Evans, Head of South West Operations, NRW, said: "While there is strong evidence identifying the likely cause of the derailment and the impact that had on the environment, it has not been possible to determine beyond reasonable doubt who was ultimately responsible for the derailment of the train wagon.
"We have exhausted every lead as part of the investigation, however, there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against a specific individual or company. To pursue a court case knowing there was no realistic prospect of a successful prosecution would be a reckless use of public funds.
He added: "This has been a difficult and disappointing decision for NRW to make. The impact of this incident will be felt in the environment for years to come.
"I wish to thank everyone who contributed to the enormous incident response, and recovery operation. All worked tirelessly to mitigate the long-term impact of this incident on the environment."
Commenting on the news, Dame Nia Griffith MP, Member of Parliament for Llanelli, said: “We are deeply disappointed at this news that no-one will be held directly accountable for the crash. It has caused significant damage to the natural environment around the Loughor Estuary and created major difficulties for the cockling industry there, from which they are still struggling to recover.
"It was only through luck that nothing even more serious happened that night, yet, here we are over two years later and no-one will be taking responsibility for such a worrying incident. This is particularly concerning as similar issues with rolling stock maintenance were reported following an incident in 2017.
How can we now be sure that lessons are properly learned from this if companies are allowed to just carry on as normal without any consequences?”
Lee Waters MS, Senedd Member for Llanelli, added: “The crash was a real wake up call and its effects are still being felt locally even after all this time. The Rail Accident Investigation Board (RAIB) issued a comprehensive report into the incident with a host of recommendations to be implemented.
"It is vital that all the lessons from this are learned quickly so that similar incidents are not allowed to happen again in future. All the recommendations need to be implemented promptly and fully to ensure that we never see something like again.”