Customs officers have uncovered the country's biggest ever illegal diesel laundering plant, at a site four miles north of Dundalk. Almost 60,000 litres of oil were seized, all of it had been smuggled in from the North. No arrests have been made but the Revenue Commissioners say they are following a definite line of inquiry.

Unlike the diesel used in cars, diesel for home heating and agricultural use does not have to have full duty paid on it. This type of diesel has chemical markers in it to identify it. A diesel laundering scam involves washing out these markers and then selling the oil on as auto diesel. According to the Revenue Commissioners, not only does this defraud the state, it also defrauds the buyer because small amounts of the chemicals always remain in oil, corroding the engine of the vehicle that uses it.

The illegal plant raided this morning by customs officers, backed up by armed Gardaí, was capable of processing up to 200,000 litres of diesel per week. The premises, at Roskeagh actually runs alongside the border between Louth and South Armagh. A number of oil tankers and sophisticated equipment used in the operation were also seized and the plant will now be dismantled. This is the third such discovery in recent months and is the biggest ever made in the country.