A tough Dublin businessman, whose waste management company made millions on the Celtic Tiger’s building boom, finally lost his 20-year battle with the US environmental regulator last week.
Tony Dean (71), who had an address in Woodhaven, Milltown, south Dublin, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment with the last year suspended, for environmental violations at a Co Kildare waste tip.
Once the owner of a multimillion-dollar waste business during the boom years, Dean is now serving a prison sentence for violating the Waste Management Act, 1996.
The prison sentence is new, but the activities of his company, Dean Waste Company, have been on the radar of authorities since the early 2000s.
As a director, Dean was previously fined £10,000 in 2009 for recovering unlicensed waste on a site in Whitestown Quarry near Baltinglass, Co Wicklow in 1998.
However, it was running a rubbish tip in Kerdiffstown, near Naas that landed him in confinement last week.
Last November he was found guilty in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of two violations of a waste management license and of holding or recovering waste in a way that caused environmental pollution.
The allegations followed an investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the state’s environmental watchdog, covering a period from October 2003 to November 2008 at the Kerdiffstown landfill.
Imposition of prison sentence on June 9, Judge Melanie Greally said the violations had a significant environmental impact and effect on the businesses and residents of nearby properties.
Established in the early 1980s, Dean Waste grew into one of the largest waste management operators in the country, before being wiped out by the economic crisis that followed the Celtic Tiger.
The company was mainly involved in the disposal of waste from the construction sector.
Marketed as A1 Rifiuti, it posted an operating profit of 45 million between 2001 and 2008, during the heady days of the construction boom. It had revenues of more than $180 million during the period, peaking at $27 million in 2005, according to company records.
The Dublin businessman had a reputation for being very tough, as well as someone who was wise and savvy with numbers, said a former associate.
Although his company made several million euros in profits during the boom, he wasn’t the flashy type, the former colleague told The Irish Times.
While Dean Waste maintained revenue of over $20 million in 2008, its operating profit plummeted to less than $750,000 as the country’s construction boom came to an abrupt halt.
A source who knew Dean in the early 2000s described his business as 100% builder related.
Accounts filed in 2000 noted that the company was doing well due to favorable trading conditions in the construction industry. The directors predicted a continued increase in turnover as demand from the construction sector grew.
And it drove it up, with the company reporting profits of several million euros a year until the 2008 economic crash.
Dean, a Fianna Fil supporter at the time, was recorded as donor of 6,000 to the party in 2002. Former Fianna Fil fundraiser Des Richardson also confirmed that he previously worked as a business consultant with Dean for a time during the Celtic Tiger.
However, when construction business plummeted during the recession, developers’ reliance on business led Dean Waste to follow it over the edge. The company went into receivership in 2010, with several of Dean’s other companies subsequently dissolved.
Dean’s company that controlled the Kerdiffstown landfill, Jenzsoph Ltd, was fined £20m in 2015 for causing pollution and nuisance odors at the site. But the fines remain unpaid, as the company has been dissolved. Dean himself made a significant $2.3 million settlement in 2017 revenue for underreported income taxes, following an investigation into offshore funds by officials.
The settlement, disclosed in the tax defaulters list that year, involved over 740,000 in tax, 1 million interest and an additional 550,000 fine.
Dean was previously involved with City Bin, the household waste collection company serving Dublin and Galway.
His firm bought half the shares in the Galway-based firm two years after it was formed in the late 1990s, with Dean listed as a director until the mid-2000s.
A source familiar with the deal said Dean had a passive stake and was not involved in running the household waste collection company.
In 2007 Dean Waste was bought out of City Bin by its original founders, who it is understood had no further business dealings with Dean thereafter.
At about the time Deans’ business was collapsing in 2010, the Kerdiffstown landfill was abandoned, with the EPA and later Kildare County Council taking over the site.
EPA inspections had identified growing concern about a growing pile of waste at the site between 2003 and 2008, which violated the terms of the landfill license.
A 2017 environmental impact assessment for the council warned that the landfill poses a long-term risk to the environment from pollution from landfill gas, odor and leachate if left untreated.
In total, it cost the state more than $60 million to clean up the site to prevent further environmental damage and redevelop it as a public park, the court heard.
Dean’s approach to the EPA has been described by a former colleague as an attempt to push back the regulator.
He thought he could beat City Hall, the former colleague said.
His court case heard how he had hired Dr Ted Nealon (64), a former EPA inspector with an address in Winton Avenue, Rathgar, Dublin 6, to advise him and deal with the regulator on a daily basis.
Dr. Nealon had worked as a senior EPA inspector involved in waste licensing, leaving the state agency in 2000 and starting consulting work with Dean Waste around 2003.
Dr Nealon, who became a director of the company in 2008, had previously been charged in relation to the Kerdiffstown landfill but was later acquitted. He continues to run an environmental services consultancy and has also lectured at Trinity College Dublin on a limited basis in recent years, a university spokeswoman said.
Dr. Nealon had contributed as a guest lecturer to the university’s graduate program in environmental engineering, he said.
In response to questions from the Irish Times, Dr Nealon said some of what was said in court was untrue and was defamatory.
He said he believed this was apparently an effort by Tony Dean to shift the blame on me to try and get off.
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