Toxic waste at fuel laundering site
Almost 50 tonnes of toxic waste have been found at a fuel laundering plant in Northern Ireland.
Customs officials said the dump on a Co Armagh farm was the largest ever found in the UK.
The discovery was made when a diesel laundering plant, capable of producing around 20 million litres of illicit fuel, was dismantled.
Pat Curtis, national oils coordinator with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), said: "Every illegal diesel laundering operation typically generates tonnes of toxic waste, but this was the largest amount we have ever uncovered at a single site in the UK.
"As taxpayers and local ratepayers, not only are we missing out on the stolen tax that ends up in the pockets of the criminals, we are also paying the substantial clean-up and disposal costs, which will be around £25,000 for this site alone. Buying illicit fuel not only funds crime, it supports and encourages these dangerous activities within our communities."
The fuel laundering plant was found in a livestock shed when HMRC officers and police swooped on a cattle farm in the Forkhill area of Co Armagh.
It was capable of evading around £12.5 million worth of taxes a year.
As well as the toxic waste, 2,000 litres of illicit diesel, pumps and equipment were recovered during the operation.
Laundered fuel is red (or green) diesel, which has been filtered through chemicals or acids to remove the government marker.
The chemicals and acids remain in the fuel and damage fuel pumps in diesel cars.