Local representatives call for urgent action on toxic dumping

March 11, 2013

The scourge of toxic waste dumping which plagues the South Armagh region has once again been met with anger and condemnation from local representatives, who are urging all involved agencies to tackle the issue “once and for all.”

Their demands came just as HMRC officers removed more than one-and-a-half tonnes of toxic waste from a cattle farm in Cullyhanna after the discovery of a diesel laundering plant hidden behind a wall of hay bales. The illegal operation – which used slurry tankers to launder and transport the diesel – was capable of producing 1.8 million litres of illicit fuel, evading almost £1.2 million in taxes and duty a year.

Sinn Fein Councillor Colman Burns, speaking after visiting another diesel sludge dumping site in Mullaghduff branded the discarding of toxic waste “a disgusting practice” and said it only served to feed the negative publicists who thrive on giving the border area a bad name.

“Over the last number of weeks the South Armagh area has come under heavy attack from sensationalist and vile reporting from the gutter press that, quite rightly, was totally condemned by concerned locals as well as ourselves as elected representatives” he said.

“We asked that Council Officials make our thoughts known to the newspaper and reporters concerned. Unfortunately, the people who continue to dump this toxic waste along our roads and throughout our countryside are adding another injustice to our District.”

Councillor Burns continued,

“While they destroy our environment, they also feed the negative publicists who love to tar us all with the one brush. These people however have no regard for the South Armagh area or the people that live in it. They continue to treat the people of this district as second class citizens in pursuit of their greed.”

SDLP Assembly Member Dominic Bradley MLA and Slieve Gullion Councillor Geraldine Donnelly have also raised their concerns about the relentless practice, calling for a stronger effort to stop the perpetrators once and for all.

Geraldine Donnelly said the communities of South Armagh were “fed up with their areas being used as some sort of dumping ground for this horrendous waste” while those responsible continue to profit.

“Already this year we have seen hundreds of thousands of tonnes of this waste dumped in South Armagh and the border counties costing tens of thousands of pounds to clear up.  The bill for cleaning up this stuff is not picked up by those who make financial gain from this illegal process; it is the ordinary tax paying and rate paying citizens of South Armagh and beyond.”

Assembly Member Dominic Bradley MLA reiterated that the dumping of hazardous waste was not a victimless crime considering the damage to the natural environment as well as the damage to vehicle engines using laundered diesel.

“Local people are telling me enough is enough, they want to see the criminals behind this activity caught and held accountable for their actions.  Those responsible have no love for this community or this country; if they did they wouldn’t dump their waste in some of Ireland’s most scenic beauty spots like they have done in Armagh and Monaghan” he said.

Mr Bradley revealed that he and Councillor Donnelly have called for urgent round table discussions on this issue saying,

“It’s time we got a grip of this issue once and for all and that’s why we have asked that Council Officials bring together representatives of all the agencies involved and go right up to Ministerial level if need be to try and stop this activity.  We need the PSNI, An Garda Síochána, Revenue & Customs, Forest Service, The NI Environment Agency and Council all around the table.  Local communities are calling for urgent action, now it’s time these agencies got their act together and tackled this crime once and for all.”