The company, Cluff Natural Resources Ltd, was forced into the red-faced confession at a recent meeting organised by Llanelli MP Nia Griffiths. Their proposal to develop an “Underground Coal Gasification” project in the Inlet was branded by one resident as an “experiment” when company representative Dr. Michael Green was forced to concede the accident had happened at a European trial site at El Tremadal, Spain.
The explosion, referred to by Dr. Green as a “Blowout”, raises disturbing echoes of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2010, when a similar type of explosion led to the largest offshore oil spill in US history.
In the case of the El Tremedal site, at a remote rural location, the accident led to short-term contamination of the site, but questions remain about the potential impact of such an accident on a protected marine site and near a heavily built-up area. Further testing on the site was abandoned following the incident.
And while environmental concerns are central to the anxieties of many residents in the area, economic concerns also persist in the wake of the debate around possible sewage impacts on the Inlet’s multi-million pound cockling industry. As one exasparated resident put it “This whole area was given over for the commercial fishing of Bass in the 1980s, I just can’t believe I’m listening to this.”