Friday, November 11, 2022

Declan Brennan

The retired director of a waste management company showed “complete contempt” for the law in allegedly operating a 25 acre “illegal landfill” site, prosecution lawyers have told a jury.

Tony Dean of Woodhaven, Miltown, Dublin is on trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on offences contrary to the Waste Management Act, 1996.

He has pleaded not guilty to two charges that he did, as then director of Nephin Trading Ltd., dispose of or undertake the recovery of waste at a facility in Kerdiffstown, Naas, Co Kildare otherwise than in accordance with the waste licence then in force, between October 2003 to September 2006 and, separately, between September 2006 and November 2008.

He has also denies a third charge that he held or recovered waste in a manner likely to cause environmental pollution at the Kerdiffistown site between October 2003 and November 2008.

After a four-week trial, lawyers for the Director of Public Prosecutions and defending counsel made closing speeches summarising their cases to the jury.

‘Mountain of waste’

Dean Kelly SC, prosecuting, said that between 2003 and 2008 a “mountain of waste” was deposited on a 25-acre site in Kerdiffistown in a way that breached two licences issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in October 2003 and in September 2006.

He said the licence did not allow for the waste to be stored in the way it accumulated and that the waste accumulated in a way that caused environmental pollution. He said the defence case was it was being stored in order to be recycled eventually.

He said the expert evidence during the trial was that the site was “an active landfill” with an estimated annual 4.8 million gallons of leachate, contaminated liquid generated when rainwater moves through a solid waste disposal site.

“This site walks, talks and smells like an illegal landfill,” he said. He said the activities of the company showed complete contempt of the licence issued to it and of the people living in the area and was a flagrant abuse of the waste laws.

He said that Mr Dean was “the cog at the centre of the wheel, the entire nest of companies that is the Dean Waste empire”. He said the evidence was Mr Dean was the kind of boss who was “on site and got his boots and hands dirty” and “knew exactly what was moving through his business”.

‘Visionary’

Barry White SC, defending, submitted to the jury that there was no evidence of negligence on the part of his client. He said his client was a visionary who had the ambition to buy an existing dump and set up a recycling operation there.

He said in the mid 1990s “we had no recycling” and his client was one of the first, if not the first, who believed in moving from landfill to the recovery of waste. He said that Mr Dean “had a dream” of setting up a recycling facility and had the ability to invent and design the machinery to put that into place.

He said the Waste Management Act in 1996 changed the way things operated and his client hired someone “at the top of his profession in waste management” to advise him on the law. The court has heard Mr Kelly hired Dr Ted Nealon, a former employee of the Environment Protection Agency, as an expert to advice him.

Mr White said his client was a simple man with dyslexia, but that he “wanted to fly and Dr Nealon was his pilot”.

He said that the site in Naas was bought by his client and was an existing “dump”, which was full at one end with landfill and half full at the other. He said his client’s vision was to re-use the site by recycling the waste.

EPA

He said the EPA could see the benefit of what Mr Dean and his company were proposing to do from the point of view of waste management and the environment. He said this was evidenced by the issuing of a second licence in 2006.

He said there was a “tacit approach” and a “tacit agreement” from directors of the EPA into what the company was doing and that this was not “a fly by night operation” by any stretch.

He said his client and the company had retained a top shelf legal company in A&L Goodbody and Mr Dean had “poached” expert Dr Nealon from the EPA to get the best advice. He said that “Dean Waste and Nephin Trading” were going to clear out the entire site but that was going to take time, maybe decades.

“At the end of the day what was going to occur in Kerdiffistown was a vast amelioration of what had been there before,” he said.

He said that in the voluminous correspondence from the EPA to the company not a single letter was address to his client. He said the EPA were dealing with Dr Nealon.

“The EPA had all these concerns and they are not getting satisfaction out of Ted Nealon – and they didn’t go to Tony Dean, here’s the problem here, sort it out. How can they now turn around and say Mr Dean is negligent?,” Mr White said, before urging the jury to acquit his client of the three charges.

On Monday Judge Melanie Greally will charge the jury before sending it out to begin deliberations.

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