One of the largest amounts of toxic waste from fuel laundering found in the UK has been discovered in south Armagh, in what has been described as a potential “environmental disaster”.
Up to 50 tonnes of sludge, which is produced as part of the process of illegally laundering diesel, was found in a farm shed just outside Forkhill.
The cost to the taxpayer is an estimated £12.5m in lost taxes.
“This could have been a disaster for people in the area and for the environment,” said Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan.
“Fuel laundering and the reckless dumping of the highly toxic waste products is totally irresponsible and very dangerous. It harms communities on a number of levels and shows a total disregard for the environment of Northern Ireland on which we all depend on for our quality of life and livelihoods.
Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan – “Fuel laundering and the reckless dumping of the highly toxic waste products is totally irresponsible and very dangerous”
“The money spent on cleaning up after criminals could be much better spent in Northern Ireland to secure a better environment for the whole community.”
Pat Curtis of HMRC said: “Every illegal diesel laundering operation typically generates tonnes of toxic waste, but this was the largest amount we have ever uncovered at a single site in the UK.
“As taxpayers and local ratepayers, not only are we missing out on the stolen tax that ends up the pockets of the criminals, we are also paying the substantial clean-up and disposal costs, which will be around £25,000 for this site alone.
“Buying illicit fuel not only funds crime, it supports and encourages these dangerous activities within our communities.”
Investigations into the fuel plant are continuing.