Fuel laundering not out of control in Northern Ireland, says HMRC

HMRC has denied the problem of illicit fuel production in Northern Ireland is out of control, despite finding two more fuel laundries recently at Coalisland, Co Tyrone, and Cullyhanna, Co Armagh.

Inspector also discovered two illicit filling stations, one in Belfast and one in Lurgan, Co Armagh.

The discoveries bring the total number of illicit fuel laundries closed down by HMRC in Northern Ireland so far this year to 18, said the agency. Inspectors closed down two diesel laundering plants in Co Armagh, Northern Ireland in October.

The fuel laundering site at Coalisland was capable of producing 1.4 million litres of fuel a year; the Cullyhanna site had an estimated capacity of 5 million litres a year, it confirmed. Over eight tonnes of toxic waste (a by-product of the laundering process) and 3,000 litres of illicit fuel were removed from the sites.

However, a spokeswoman for HMRC told CM its regular discoveries of fuel laundering sites this year did not indicate the problem was getting out of hand.

“We don’t think it is out of control,” she said. “The fact that we have identified, dismantled and seized more laundering plants should not be viewed as a negative, demonstrating that we are losing, but rather that our intelligence picture and co-operation with other agencies is much improved.”