A new report by the Criminal Justice Inspectorate says illegal dumping uncovered at the Mobuoy Road outside Londonderry was “a sophisticated operation” that amounted to “large scale organised criminality” and could end up costing the taxpayer £100m to clean-up.
Londonderry DUP Alderman Maurice Devenney welcomed the CJINI report into the Environmental Crime Unit (ECU), which investigates serious environmental crime here.
“I welcome this report, but it is too little too late for the people who reside beside the largest illegal dump in the UK at Mobuoy, County Londonderry, where it is believed that half a million tons of illegal waste has been buried illegally and will cost tax payers millions of pounds to clean up,” said Mr Devenney.
“In this case there have been serious failings on the part of the Department of the Environment (DoE).
“On receiving warnings and concerns from a number of groups the DoE waited a number of years to close this facility.”
The new report explains how the stringent regulations and substantial costs associated with waste disposal creates a ready market for illegal dumping at lower prices and without any regulation.
“The high profits which can arise have attracted Organised Crime Groups (OCGs). The nature of waste crime is adequately demonstrated by the discovery in 2012 of an estimated total of 516,000 tonnes of macerated waste in an area adjacent to the River Faughan in the townland of Mobuoy near Derry/Londonderry.
“It was deposited in an area stretching to almost 1.4km. This was a sophisticated operation which had been carried out over a number of years. It continues to be the subject of a criminal investigation by the ECU.
“A further visible manifestation of the involvement of OCGs in waste crime in Northern Ireland concerns the by-product of fuel laundering in the form of hazardous waste; which is often dumped illegally with consequent environmental damage and clean-up costs for tax/rate payers,” the report states.
It says the costs of remediating the Mobuoy site is currently estimated at £800,000 but could rise to well over £100m and notes the absence of any strategic planned approach to examine the potential for significant waste crime on the scale of Mobuoy in other closed landfill sites.
James Corrigan, Deputy Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in called on the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) to enhance its enforcement and regulation activity and develop a more rigorous approach to dealing with offenders involved in environmental crime in Northern Ireland
“Environmental crime impacts on all of us. Significant organised waste crime has been found to exist in Northern Ireland with criminals, illegal and unscrupulous operators making significant profits from waste crime and illegal waste disposal,” said the Deputy Chief Inspector.
“These activities mean legitimate businesses cannot compete as their costs are undercut by criminals who do not see enforcement action as a deterrent.”