11 toxic waste dumps found in Cookstown

Fuel laundering waste has polluted local rivers
Fuel laundering waste has polluted local rivers

A total of 11 illegal fuel laundering dumps have been discovered in the Cookstown District over the past two and a half years.

Just over 24 tonnes of the toxic waste, which is described as very poisonous and highly polluting, have been removed from the local sites, according to the latest figures released by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

Since June 2012 the NIEA has been operating a flytipping partnership with 21 of Northern Ireland’s 26 councils as a way of addressing the fuel dumping problem.

Five councils – including Belfast and Dungannon – are not represented.

The clean-up of waste dumped around the local district’s fields and rivers has cost almost £50,000 since 2012 and is in addition to the money spent dismantling actual fuel plants.

Responding to the figures obtained by The Detail, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: “I am absolutely horrified at the levels of fuel laundering waste dumped in our countryside.

“This dumping poses a significant risk to the environment and to both human and animal health through potential contamination of our water supplies and local rivers.

“The clean-up of fuel laundering waste has used up to approximately 85% of the total budget set aside for dealing with the NIEA response to managing fly tipped waste throughout Northern Ireland.”

In recent years the Department of Justice has faced criticism for the low number of people who have been convicted and received a jail sentence for fuel laundering related crimes here.

New legislation came into effect at the end of last year that will allow the Director of Public Prosecutions to appeal sentences related to fuel laundering on the grounds of “undue leniency”.

Department of Justice figures state that over 200 fuel laundering plants have been raided in Northern Ireland over the past decade. Meanwhile Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) estimates that fuel fraud is taking up to £80million a year out of the local economy. MLAs at Stormont have voted to extend the NCA’s powers to NI.