AUTHORITIES on both sides of the Border are closing in on companies responsible for large-scale illegal dumping at the height of the building boom.
Prosecutions are being sought against a number of firms who illegally transported 250,000 tonnes of household and commercial waste across the Border to be buried.
Taxpayers will pay a heavy price for these crimes, with the expected cost of repatriating the waste and burying it in the South estimated at being up to €30m.
Files are being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Crown Prosecution Service over illegal dumping at 17 secret locations in the North between 2001 and 2004. Instead of being brought to legal landfills, it was dumped at knockdown prices at unlicensed private sites.
The waste accounted for 8pc of the Republic's annual total at the time -- and would more than half fill Croke Park.
Dublin City Council, the local authority tasked with organising the repatriation, is now seeking tenders from waste companies to bring more of the illegal waste back to the Republic so it can be legally buried in licensed landfills south of the Border.
The authorities in the Republic have agreed to pay for the disposal of the waste when it is brought back across the Border, and 80pc of the excavation costs in the North.
The Environmental Protection Agency in the Republic and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) have been investigating those suspected of being behind the illegal dumping for the past two years.
Already the NIEA has secured three convictions against a number of property owners for illegally depositing waste from the Republic.
A total of 50,000 tonnes of waste has so far been repatriated and landfilled in Donegal and Louth.
A Dublin City Council report on illegal dumping -- seen by the Irish Independent -- said insufficient enforcement of cross-border waste shipment regulations by local authorities, particularly in the Republic, was one of the main drivers for the widespread illegal dumping.
A spokesperson for the North's Department of the Environment said the illegal dumping from the Republic "involved serious criminality with absolutely no regard to the impact on the environment, local communities or our economy".