The disposal of toxic sludge by smugglers results in a cleaning bill of 950,000 euros

A municipality had to spend more than 950,000 euros in the last four years to clean up toxic sludge left behind by fuel smugglers.

Outh County Council said it had completed more than 140 separate cleanups since early 2019 at an average individual cost of about €6,400.

Figures released by the local authority showed that the bill for cleaning up after washed fuel was nearly €300,000 last year alone.

That covered the cost of 38 separate surgeries costing €7,122 each, according to data released by the FOI.

In the first quarter of this year, four cases of diesel sludge dumping were discovered by Louth County Council, costing a total of €144,000 to treat.

A total of around €277,000 was spent this year disposing of 222 tons of diesel sludge, most of which was dumped in the north of the county.

Fuel washing is particularly problematic in Co Louth due to its location and a long history of smuggling operations in the area.

In March Gardaí impounded their first mobile fuel washing facility near Dundalk.

The operation also delivered 14,000 liters of marked mineral fuel, two oil tankers and bleach.

A spokeswoman for Louth County Council said it was sludge control
Dumping was funded by the Department of Environment’s Department of Waste Policy and Enforcement through a diesel wash disposal grant.

She said: “This support ensures that this illegal activity does not divert funds from other Louth County Council activities.”

The spokeswoman said that at most landfills, sludge is contained in bulk containers that have largely prevented major spills.

“However, the carelessness with which the containers are emptied from vans or trailers has resulted in a number of minor spills in recent years where these containers have ruptured,” she added.

“So far we have been fortunate that no significant amount of diesel sludge has entered a stream or river, which could undoubtedly cause significant environmental damage and endanger human and animal health.”

The council said it was also in constant contact with gardaí and the tax authorities to try to tackle diesel smuggling.

It urged people and businesses to “be careful” when sourcing fuel. The disposal of toxic sludge by smugglers results in a cleaning bill of 950,000 euros

Fry Electronics Team

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