15 July 2005

BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Illegal fuel 'harms environment'

BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Illegal fuel 'harms environment'

Illegal fuel laundering is harming the environment

Illegal fuel laundering in Northern Ireland is harming the environment, customs officers have warned.

It follows the discovery of an illegal fuel operation at Camlough in south Armagh on Thursday.

Two vehicles adapted with concealed tanks for transporting fuel and 17,000 litres of laundered fuel were seized.

John Spence from HM Revenue and Customs service said the chemicals used in the laundering process caused damage to the surrounding area.

The harmful chemicals are used to remove the red dye from "low tax" diesel intended for agricultural use. The fuel is then sold to motorists.

"We estimate that there was a potential revenue loss of £1m from a plant like this over the course of a year," said John Spence.

"However, we also need to be aware of the environmental and safety issues of illegal laundering plants.

"We need to consider what happens to the waste by-product and the damage caused to our land, our water and our rivers.

"We know that waste like this has been dumped close to where this laundering plant was and that clearly causes damage to our environment."

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