Crossmaglen illegal diesel plants dismantled

September 4, 2012

By Christine Keighery

Three illegal fuel laundering plants capable of producing over 20 million litres of illegal fuel a year, at a cost of £9m to the public purse, have been dismantled in Crossmaglen.

Customs and PSNI officers uncovered the three separate laundering plants during raids on a number of agricultural and private premises in south Armagh last Wednesday and Thursday.

Nearly 17,000 litres of laundered fuel were seized at two of the plants as well as a large quantity of chemicals used to launder diesel, and six large capacity fuel tanks at premises in Concession Road, Crossmaglen.

Over 10 tonnes of toxic waste also had to be removed.

During searches of a domestic property in the area, documents were seized and a 27-year-old man was arrested then bailed to reappear in two weeks.

Mike Norgrove, Director, HMRC, who attended the operations, said: “Every illegal laundering operation has significant environmental and safety issues.

“The indiscriminate dumping of the by-products from the laundering process has been causing severe damage to the environment, as well as placing additional burdens on the taxpayers and local ratepayers who, ultimately, have to pay for the clean up and disposal costs.

“These three plants had the capacity to produce over 20 million litres of illicit fuel a year, which, when sold on at a reduced rate, creates an unfair playing field in which legitimate businesses cannot hope to compete. Running to full capacity, these plants had the potential to cause a loss of over £9 million a year.”

“That is why I would urge anyone with information to contact our free telephone hotline on 0800 59 5000 and let us know of any fuel misuse or suspicious activities in their area,” he added.

All three plants were dismantled and investigations are continuing.