Threat of 'vigilantes' over fuel sludge

 

ANGRY BORDER farmers in the Republic are threatening to set up “vigilante patrols” during the night at various Border crossings in a bid to catch rogue hauliers who are engaged in dumping hundreds of tonnes of toxic fuel-sludge on various roads near farms and streams.

Yesterday, a group of residents in the Mullyash area of Monaghan revealed they were planning to “organise” late-night patrols – to “target the trucks used by the illicit fuel-dumpers”.

But, it has emerged, gardaí have advised against “any form of vigilante activity” according to a spokesman for the group.

The spokesman, a local farmer, said: “Every week toxic sludge is being dumped on the roadsides and it is a threat to livestock in local fields and depending on streams for a drink – we certainly don’t intend to allow this to continue”.

“We feel the time has now come to take the necessary steps to end this threat from these racketeers who are clearly making a fortune and putting everyone else at risk.”

The sludge is being drawn away for disposal from illicit fuel-laundering “sheds” where smugglers are “doctoring” cheap coloured diesel to remove the dye.

This enables the diesel, which is purchased as tax-rebated fuel, to be resold to “rogue” filling stations across the country as “top-grade commercial fuel” at a high price, but still below the normal price for legitimate fuel – thereby giving a handsome profit to the racketeers.

During the past fortnight, close on 20,000 litres of the toxic sludge was dumped at different locations in Co Monaghan, all less than one mile from the Border with south Armagh .

All the locations were beside farmland and posed a hazardous pollution threat to the local environment.

Emergency services were called out to assist Monaghan county council environmental crews in clearing up the toxic dumps beside farms at Mullyash, Cremartin, Doohamlet and Annyalla, all of which are near the town of Castleblayney.

The matter has been raised at local and national level and has featured in many Dáil resolutions and debates. However, the local community has become frustrated with the lack of action from the Government.