The number of complaints of suspected petrol stretching in Mayo has almost doubled since the end of September with the Revenue Commissioners and gardaí now investigating 222 from this county alone.
The new figures were revealed in the Dáil last week when Deputy Denis Naughten raised the matter with Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.
Minister Fitzgerald said the State Laboratory had prioritised the testing of all samples submitted in connection with the petrol stretching issue, and all staff who had the necessary experience and expertise in this area were being deployed to work on these samples.
“If the results of the analysis reveals the presence of any illegal stretching agents, I can assure the Deputy that the Revenue Commissioners will take action and pursue prosecutions against offenders where feasible,” said the Minister.
Mayo motorists now account for the more than two-thirds of the 308 official petrol stretching complaints being investigated across Mayo, Galway, Roscommon, Longford, Sligo, and Leitrim.
The petrol stretching issue came to light this summer when scores of Mayo motorists were advised by their mechanics that bad fuel had destroyed their engines.
The adulterated fuel leaves a sticky residue in the engine which can cost thousands of euros to clean up. Many motorists have been advised to replace their engines entirely.
Minister Fitzgerald said no files had yet been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions but all reported incidents remain under investigation.
She stressed that the issue was a matter of serious concern to the Government as it results in losses to the Exchequer, threatens legitimate businesses, and can potentially cause significant damage to the vehicles of unsuspecting purchasers of adulterated fuel.
“I can assure the Deputy, therefore, that our law enforcement authorities are continuing to direct their resources to address this issue,” said the Minister.