An investigation has been launched after human remains were found at a waste recycling plant in Dublin.

The grisly discovery of a leg was made by an employee at the Thorntons recycling facility in Ballyfermot, west Dublin, shortly before midnight last Thursday.

A human thigh was subsequently discovered at the Killeen Road plant and gardai suspect there may be more body parts concealed in the mounds of trash.

Work at the plant was suspended and the equipment was shut down, as gardai sealed off a large section of the recycling center and carried out a forensic examination.

Garda sources who spoke to The Irish Times said the body parts case has been assigned all the resources of a murder inquiry.

They are understood to suspect a murder may have been committed and the remains dismembered and dumped in trash in a bid to hide the crime.

However, until the results of the forensic examination are established, they are keeping an open mind on the discovery of the remains.

Another theory is that the remains could be medical waste from amputations that had been accidentally disposed of in a regular refuse collection.

Meanwhile, garda teams are expected to continue searching through the vast mounds of waste over the weekend.

On Friday, Deputy State Pathologist Dr. Michael Curtis visited the plant and examined the limb before it was taken to Tallaght Hospital for a post mortem probe.

The second body part, believed to be a thigh, was found by garda teams searching the site and also removed for a post mortem examination.

The post mortem examinations, which were taking place Friday night, are expected to establish the gender of the deceased, their race and how long they had been dead.

Gardai are also understood to be probing the routes of the trucks whose refuse created the load in which the body parts were found, in a bod to determine where the remains might have come from.

Meanwhile, work at the plant is expected to be suspended for most of the weekend as the search for further body parts continues.