Northern Ireland

Illegal South Armagh diesel plant blamed for pollution

An illegal diesel laundering plant has polluted a rural area of South Armagh, according to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Fourteen thousand litres of laundered diesel were seized in a raid on the plant on Concession Road.

It was carried out by officials from HMRC, police officers and staff from the NI Environment Agency.

Three tonnes of toxic waste as well as bleaching agent were removed from the site.

An oil tanker, storage tanks, trailers and laundering equipment were also seized.

HMRC said the plant had the capacity to produce up to 10m litres of illicit fuel a year.

It said the plant's operators could have evaded over £6m of tax revenue annually.

Mike Connolly, assistant director of HMRC's special investigations team, said the pollution caused showed the "total disregard criminals have for our land and waterways".

He added: "Fuel laundering is unregulated and dangerous. This plant was operating on scrubland just metres from the road - its only cover was trees and hedges.

"Indiscriminate dumping of the waste from the laundering process causes severe damage to our environment.

"Taxpayers and local ratepayers are then obliged to meet the costs of the clean-up."