Friday, 8 December 2006

Illegal fuel dumping costs council 1.1m

ILLEGAL dumping of waste fuel has cost a local authority an estimated 1.1 million.

A report on the dumping of a diesel wash is to be presented by Monaghan County Council at a local authority meeting on Monday. The report outlines the scale of the dumping, and points out that it has been unable to take legal action against anyone.

Diesel wash is a by-product of the illegal processing of marked gas oil, which is normally used for home heating or agricultural machinery. Concentrated sulphuric acid is added to the gas oil, removing the dye. The resultant unmarked gas oil is sold illegally as road-use diesel.

The dumping of the diesel wash is linked to cross-border diesel laundering and smuggling. The report says the vast majority is dumped late at night in remote areas, and sometimes in conservation areas, such as recent finds at Concra, near Castleblayney, and Mullyash Mountain. On both occasions 40-foot trailers containing barrels of diesel wash were found.

The report says that this year, Monaghan County Council has responded to 18 instances of diesel wash dumping. This is down on 2005, when it dealt with 28 cases, and 2004, when it dealt with 36.

However, while the number of cases has fallen, the quantity has grown. As of November 9 this year, the local authority had dealt with 82,000 litres of dumped diesel wash, compared with 58,000 litres in 2005 and 52,000 litres in 2004.

Customs and Excise has estimated that 1,000 litres of acid wash waste represents about 100,000 litres of laundered fuel. This means six million litres of laundered fuel was produced in the area last year alone.

In addition, the 82,000 litres mentioned does not include diesel wash material found during construction work on the N2 Castleblayney bypass earlier this year. The report says burst containers contaminated the surrounding ground and some surface waters. Some 95 tonnes of diesel wash and contaminated soil were removed for treatment, costing about รข‚¬100,000. This will initially be borne by GAMA Construction, who won the contract for the road work.

The hazardous fluid and any contaminated soil must be removed by trained personnel and sent to a hazardous waste facility in Germany.

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