Published Wednesday, 05 June 2013
The company at the centre of the controversy has been named as City Industrial Waste Ltd.
Over the past four years it is thought hundreds of thousands of tons of rubbish has been dropped into land in the Mobuoy area outside Derry. It was then covered with soil and clay to hide the prohibited waste.
Two people have been arrested during an investigation - known as Operation Sycamore - into the illegal dumping.
On Wednesday, Environment Minister Alex Attwood revoked the licence granted to the operator.
He described the investigation as "painstaking work with the aim of maximising the chances of dealing a big blow to serious criminality and a big blow to environmental vandalism".
The Minister said: "The scale of the unlawful waste activity is immense and appalling and dates back at least until 2009.
"It is sophisticated in its deception. Material was mangled and shredded to hide its original sourcing, with illegal landfills being topfilled with soil and clay to deceive and hide illegal waste.
"Where I find proper grounds to move against any waste operators who may be involved, I will do so."
The scale of this is clearly well organised - the scale of this means it involves organised crime.
The waste management facility will close on Wednesday evening and, over the next two months, it will deliver all remaining rubbish to a legal landfill site.
Those who own the land which was used for disposing waste have been served notices, requiring them to take action to prevent environmental damage by taking away any polluting liquid.
An investigation into the alleged illegal dumping is continuing and a file is to be submitted to the Public Prosecution Service.
Minister Attwood has created a taskforce to investigate organised waste crime and a review of other waste sites in Northern Ireland is to begin immediately.
Mr Attwood added: "Today may indicate the scale of waste crime and the threat it poses - in environmental damage, illegality, criminality and loss of revenue to the state. Today puts waste crime front and centre in relation to criminality in Northern Ireland. It requires a comprehensive response.
"Our children, more than any generation, have environmental and green beliefs and credentials. This call on all of us and of other generations to ensure this threat of environmental crime and vandalism is, once and for all, dealt with."
In a statement released on Wednesday evening, City Industrial Waste Ltd. said it is "horrified" by the decision to revoke its licence.
It said it "has been targeted because of its opposition to the government's current waste strategy", adding: "Our company, which received an all-clear NIEA inspection in April, is horrified to have received this notice in absence of any consultation or prior notification from the department.
"The business has been operating since 2004 in its current guise and has always worked closely with NIEA and all statutory bodies to ensure full compliance at all times.
"While we were resolving three technical breaches of the planning laws at no time were we implicated in what the minister describes as criminality or environmental vandalism. We note that DoE has corrected their earlier statement to this effect."
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