The public's insatiable appetite for cut-price goods is one reason why intellectual copyright piracy has made such inroads in Hong Kong. So it is hardly surprising that the illegal diesel industry is doing a roaring trade during the recession, with commercial vehicles and some public light buses and taxis buying the fuel at half the price of the legal variety. But while pirate CDs, CD-ROMs and movies bring the entertainment industry to its knees and rob the treasury of tax revenue, the diesel fraud also seriously threatens public health and safety. For that alone, it must be more rigorously controlled. Even when buyers of untaxed oil are not breaking the law, but simply filling their tanks on the mainland before returning to the SAR, they are guilty of anti-social behaviour by using fuel with a sulphur content almost 10 times higher than the permitted safety level in the SAR. But the biggest hazard with illegal petrol stations is that they store gallons of fuel without the proper safety precautions. That is a matter of great concern, and the reason why the Fire Service has stepped up surveillance and is now able to prosecute any company dealing in untaxed fuel. Previously it could only take action if the quantity was over 2,500 litres. Fire chiefs will ask legislators to increase fines from the present maximum $25,000 and 6 months' jail, before the end of the year. Legco may be tolerant about the use of legal diesel fuel with its polluting qualities, but it neglects its duty if it does not act to stop a practice that could end in a disaster. That the Government is losing almost $2 billion in duty is serious enough, without counting the cost to the environment, or to people's health.