A dump of toxic diesel by-products, said to be the biggest in the UK, has been uncovered in Northern Ireland.
Some 50 tonnes of waste were found by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on a farm in the Forkhill area of County Armagh. Special machinery had been installed which was capable of producing 20 million litres of illegal fuel per year.
The operation was led by HMRC in collaboration with the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Environmental Crime Unit. Investigations into the illegal fuel plant are continuing.
Pat Curtis, national oils coordinator at HMRC, said it was the largest amount of toxic diesel waste ever found on a single site in the UK.
HMRC estimated that the diesel producers evaded some £12.5m in taxes a year and that clean-up and disposal costs would reach £25,000.
The discovery came months after another illegal diesel production site was found in nearby Crossmaglen. Some 10 tonnes of toxic waste were removed from that facility.
Environment minister Mark H Durkan has recently launched a plan to tackle waste crime in Northern Ireland, promising a radical and coordinate approach.
He said: “Arguably the most important actions in the plan will require strong partnership working between the new local councils and my department. Powerful co-operation between the central and local arms of government will go a long way to ensuring the proper management of waste in the North.”