Danny Kennedy has demanded action to tackle fuel fraud following revelations in the Sunday Independent newspaper which showed that carcinogenic waste was being released into waterways in the border area as a by-product of this criminal activity.
The Sunday Independent claimed it had obtained evidence of carcinogenic waste flowing from an illegal fuel plant in south Armagh into Lough Muckno, Lough Ross and the Fane River.
The Independent said “the toxic waste is being pumped directly into a stream that feeds directly into the River Fane drinking water system.
“Around 40,000 people living in Dundalk – plus another 8,000 in the Provos’ own heartland of Crossmaglen in south Armagh – are drinking water from the system that is being poisoned by the IRA fuel launderers.”
Mr Kennedy said: “It was already well-documented that fuel fraud costs the Exchequer an estimated £80 million in lost taxes which would be better spent on health or education.
“We now have conclusive proof of the shocking damage it causes to the environment and the health and well-being of local residents.
“It is simply unacceptable that no-one in Northern Ireland has been jailed for fuel laundering since 2002 and it is long past time that this illegal industry was shut down for good.
“Weekend media reports highlighted the shocking extent of pollution to waterways that has been caused as a result of the illegal activities of criminal gangs involved in fuel smuggling.
“The Sunday Independent highlighted the frightening threat to public health that has been created in south Armagh and across the border in Monaghan and Louth as a result of these illegal activities. It laid the blame squarely at the door of the Provisional IRA and in particular the individuals who were questioned by Gardaí in relation to the murder of Paul Quinn who was brutally beaten to death after a row with the gang leader in October 2007.
“The paper found evidence that carcinogenic waste had originated in an illegal fuel plant in south Armagh and flowed into Lough Muckno, Lough Ross and the Fane River, which is the main reservoir for the whole of Dundalk. Water samples indicated very serious levels of chemical pollution.
“What exactly are we waiting for before the authorities on both sides of the border take effective action to close this illegal and lucrative industry down for good and puts those responsible behind bars?”