Environment Minister Alex Attwood has not ruled out that the clean-up bill for the “immense” illegal dump may fall on the taxpayer.
While he stated that orders requiring the clean-up of the lands involved have been served on landowners and a company at the centre of allegations, he admitted that his department would have to “look at” the situation should the orders not be adhered to.
No estimate of the any clean-up cost has been published but the Minister confirmed that the area involved was the size of “many football pitches”.
“Not just tens but some hundreds of thousands of tons of waste have been illegally deposited in a number of areas of land in the Mobouy area, just outside Derry,” he said.
He added: “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.”
He said that the scale “means it involves organized crime”.
He added: “Where I find proper grounds to move against any waste operators who may be involved, I will do so.”
The DOE has said that a prosecution case file is to be submitted to the Public Prosecution Service. The DOE said arrests had been as part of the investigation but no charges were brought. The NIEA Environmental Crime Unit has requested that anyone with information about suspicious movements of waste in the Northwest (either in the past or currently) to report what they know to NIEA, PSNI or anonymously to Crimestoppers.