Tuesday, 3 February 2004

Questions (344)

Trevor Sargent


469 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has assessed the environmental impact of Border wash where diesel is mixed with hydrochloric acid and sulphuric acid and then filtered for illegal gain; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3168/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

My Department is aware, from contacts with a number of local authorities in the Border area, of the occurrence of illegal dumping of oil-laundering residues. The environmental issues involved fall to be established on a case by case basis, but such materials would generally be classified as hazardous waste. As such, and in the absence of being able to immediately establish the identity of those responsible, the local authorities concerned must collect, store and ultimately arrange for the disposal of the materials concerned.

As a result of particular difficulties which arose in this regard last year, I provided exceptional once-off funding of €168,357 and €469,930 to Monaghan and Louth county councils, respectively, to assist them in responding to instances of illegal dumping of oil-laundering residues, particularly in relation to the costs of arranging for the safe disposal abroad of the hazardous materials involved. However, my priority lies in ensuring that every effort is made to prevent such illegal dumping activities arising in the first place. In this regard, effective, co-ordinated enforcement of the law, both from a customs and waste management perspective, is crucial. I am therefore arranging for my Department to facilitate a meeting between the principal enforcement agencies concerned in order to explore the possibilities for better co-ordination of activities by the local authorities, the customs service of the Revenue Commissioners and the Garda Síochána.