Cross-border fuel laundering is in steep decline, with new figures from Revenue showing a huge drop in incidents, and local authorities reporting a sharp fall in the number of cases of toxic sludge by-product being discovered.
Over the past decade, local authorities along the border have faced six-figure costs to clean up diesel wash, often dumped in rural areas and formed as a by-product of illegal fuel laundering. The bill is ultimately covered by the Department of the Environment, with the waste having to be transported overseas to be processed.
However, Cavan County Council said it had no cases so far this year or last year, while neighbouring Monaghan County Council, also regularly affected by diesel wash waste, said the number of cases it has dealt with this year fell considerably.
Last year, Monaghan council spent €306,680 cleaning up diesel wash. It also discovered 204 abandoned intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) containing diesel wash on country roads. Each IBC contained approximately one tonne of waste.
However, this year, just 16 IBCs have been located in the county with a little over a month of 2016 to go, and the clean-up costs have fallen to €57,054.
A council spokesperson also said there had been a “dramatic reduction” in the number of individual incidences of diesel laundering waste dumping this year — just six cases up to November 22, compared with 68 in the whole of last year and 103 in 2014.
The problem is still most pronounced in neighbouring Louth, although the number of incidents there has also fallen.
Figures show, so far this year, Louth County Council has uncovered 44 incidents of dumping compared with 74 in 2015, with the tonnage involved more than halving to 124 tonnes.
The cost, to date, to the local authority this year is €180,000 compared with almost €330,000 last year.
Local authorities have credited the fall in the number of incidents to the introduction of a new dye marker (Accutrace S10) in the fuel from April 1 last year.
However, Revenue said that it was just one of a number of measures, including a new licensing regime for marked fuel traders to limit the ability of criminals to source marked fuel for laundering, and a reckless trading provision to deal with traders involved in illicit fuel.
There have been just four detections of laundered fuel at licensed premises since the beginning of 2016.
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