The state has had to foot the bill for cleaning up fuel laundering facilities to the tune of €4.9 million since 2008.
Approximately 900 incidents of diesel laundering waste dumping have been dealt with by local authorities to date and the Department of Agriculture has up to now reimbursed the costs associated with such disposal on a case by case basis.
Responding to a parliamentary question in the Dail recently Minister for Environment Phil Hogan said the majority of the clean-up operations have taken place in Louth and Monaghan with 490 and 406 sites respectively.
He added further diesel laundering facilities have been identified in Counties Cavan, Donegal, Offaly, Meath and Waterford.
The minister commented: “Enforcement in relation to illegal diesel laundering activities is primarily a matter for the Revenue Commissioners from the point of view of avoiding loss of revenue to the Exchequer. My
Department assists local authorities in carrying out their role as competent authorities under waste legislation , which is to take the necessary measures, on behalf of the State, to ensure that any waste generated and left abandoned by the diesel launderers is disposed of without endangering human health and without harming the environment.”
He noted: “This is a significant expenditure borne at present by the Environment Fund. My Department, as part of on-going cooperation with the Northern Ireland authorities on repatriation of illegally deposited waste in Northern Ireland, has held recent discussions with Northern Ireland on the need to develop a mechanism for dealing with waste from cross-Border diesel washings which would be factored into the overall discussions on waste repatriation. These discussions are ongoing.”
The illegal deposition of the waste material arising from diesel laundering activities presents local authorities with major difficulties as the task of cleaning up the material needs to be dealt with to avoid threats to the environment. The laundering process requires the use of chemicals such as sulphuric acid and bleaching agents and results in a waste by-product, a tar-like chemical compound or sludge, with the potential for environmental pollution, particularly in relation to watercourses.
Minister Hogan stated: “I believe that a complete solution to this problem must necessarily involve effective and co-ordinated enforcement of the law from both a revenue and waste management perspective. In that context, my Department continues to liaise with representatives of the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, the local authorities concerned and the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement to seek to identify more effective enforcement solutions and these engagements will continue.”
Details of the amount provided by the Department of Environment since 2008 on a per county basis are set out in the table below. [table id=31 /]