Massive clean-up bill for councils

Cash-strapped local authorities are facing growing bills to clean up toxic sludge created by illegal fuel laundering.

Louth County Council yesterday said its costs for removing and transporting diesel wash have increased by about 20% so far this year, and will outstrip the €1m-plus it cost last year.

Monaghan County Council said it has recovered 288,640 litres of toxic sludge so far this year — far exceeding last year’s total of 198,800l.

It means its costs for dealing with the problem is also likely to top €1m this year.

Both local authorities — and those of Meath and Cavan — are likely to enter into a new tender agreement in future for the disposal of the waste in a bid to cut costs.

At present there is no facility in Ireland at which the diesel wash — waste material left over from fuel laundering — can be processed and disposed of.

The waste material must be transported to the Lindenschmidt facility in Germany, adding to the overall cost.

Under the new tender, which is being finalised, there will be a greater flexibility within the four local authority areas regarding the transport of the waste.

A spokesman for Louth County Council said: “We here in Louth are trying to source an outlet for this material in Ireland that could be treated under an EPA licence.”

He said while no such facility existed, “there may be in due course”.

In the first eight months of this year, Louth County Council has spent in the region of €845,000 on cleaning up dumped diesel wash. While the money can be recouped from the Department of the Environment, it is still costing the taxpayer.

The spokesman for the council said that while the quantities of diesel wash being recovered were not dramatically different to those found last year, the clean-up was more costly because there had been a higher number of finds.

Last year Louth County Council recovered 17 40ft articulated trailers, each typically containing six IBCs (intermediate bulk containers), which would hold up to 1,000 litres.

So far this year just four large trailers have been found, but many more smaller dumps have been located, which, when taken together, is costing the local authority more.

It also indicates a possible rise in the number of small illegal fuel-laundering operations in the border area.

The four local authorities have entered a framework agreement for the provision of the new tender, although it is at a more advanced stage in Louth.

Monaghan County Council said its costs associated with cleaning up fuel laundering have also risen this year, with 52 incidents reported compared to 37 for the whole of 2011. Dumps have been found around Castleblaney and Enniskeane, but a large container was also found just off the N2 main road.

Unlike Louth County Council, which uses a contractor to remove the waste, in Monaghan the fire brigade carries out the work, dressed in chemical safety suits and using breathing apparatus.


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