€800,000 has been spent on sludge clean-ups this year

AROUND 20,000 litres of toxic diesel sludge was discovered at Carnbeg on the Armagh Road outside Dundalk on Friday last.

AROUND 20,000 litres of toxic diesel sludge was discovered at Carnbeg on the Armagh Road outside Dundalk on Friday last.

The sludge was found in 20 containers, known as IBCs, dumped by gangs involved in diesel laundering.

It brings to 26 the number of IBCs found this week by Louth County Council.

It will cost 30,000 euro to clean it up.

So far this year, it has cost €800,000 euro to clean up afterfinds of the material. A number of them were also leaking the toxic waste.

The sludge is the by-product of removing, or “washing”, the green dye from cheaper agricultural diesel.

It is then sold on as more expensive road fuel with the gangs involved making a huge profit.

Mr Paddy Donnelly of Louth Local Authorities said this was the third find this week.

Two containers were found at the the RTE mast on the Cooley mountains and four at Edentubber.

“Twenty containers were found at Carnbeg,” Mr Donnely said, “and eight of them were open or burst.”

Mr Donnelly said the issue had been raised at all the joint policing committee meetings in the county.

“The message has gone out to the public,” Mr Donnelly said, “to bring to the attention of the gardai anything that people may have noticed or seen and they can do so by contacting the gardai directly or using the confidential hotline.”

A meeting which took place earlier this year between Louth county councillors and the Department of Finance about the issue of dumping toxic diesel sludge.

It is believed that some positive points came from that meeting and the relevant government departments and customs expect to crackdown on the criminal gangs before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil deputy Seamus Kirk has called for a crack down on fuel laundering in Louth.

“This is just the latest incident of toxic sludge being abandoned near the border by gangs involved in illegal diesel laundering and it emphasises the need for a crack-down on this criminal practice,” said Deputy Kirk.

“The use of laundered fuel is damaging to public safety, the environment and the exchequer.

Figures published earlier this year show that 12 per cent of all diesel in Ireland is sold illegally, and this is on the increase as fuel prices continue to soar. Measures must be taken to stamp out what has become a very profitable criminal enterprise.”

He referred to Fianna Fáil proposals which would include equal duty on agricultural fuels and motor fuels and a scheme to allow farmers to reclaim the extra costs incurred.

This would deter criminals from purchasing agricultural fuel at a lower cost, laundering it and selling it on as motor fuel for a profit,” he said.