A MAN was jailed for six months yesterday for his part in an illegal dumping case.
Judge Katherine Delahunt sentenced Neville Watson (41), of Kilmurray, Trim, Co Meath after he pleaded guilty to not having a licence under the Waste Management Act for use of the site for dumping waste.
Co-accused John O'Reilly, of Roberstown, Naas, was fined ?150,000 for allowing his land at Whitestown, Baltinglass, Co Wicklow, to be used for disposing of waste that could cause pollution on a date between November 2000 and December 2001.
Mr Watson was legally trading in a small way in the waste disposal business at the time.
The men were charged as a result of a Garda investigation arising from an official complaint by Wicklow County Council.
Both men, with others, are also facing civil proceedings in the High Court initiated by the council.
Judge Delahunt was told it could cost up to ?10m to make the dump safe. Both men could have been fined up to ?10m under the legislation dealing with illegal dumping.
The judge said because Watson was already involved in the business he would have been aware of his responsiblities and would have known the consequences of his actions.
She took into account that he was not a "major player in the operation" and he had numerous outstanding debts from the collapse of his business. She also noted that he had not made significant funds from the enterprise.
She was satisfied that O'Reilly made frank admissions to the gardai.
She noted that "powerful evidence" had been given to the court that he was a prominent member of the community and had been active with a positive influence on local matters.
Judge Delahunt said O'Reilly was not a "hard, ruthless businessman" but a man in a state of depression and alcohol abuse who made "ill-considered judgments." She accepted he wasn't aware of the volume of the waste or the extent to which his land was being abused and that he was taken advantage of by others.
Det-Sgt Gerard McGrath, National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, told Eanna Mulloy SC, prosecuting, that gardai became involved in 2001 after the complaint by the Council which the court heard had itself also used the 20-acre site informally for dumping waste for some years.
The court heard that O'Reilly's health had deteriorated and the waste companies would tell him what they owed him and he got into such difficulties that he eventually owed a large sum to the Revenue Commissioners. He had now disposed of his interest in the land and was living in retirement.
The court also heard that Watson sought a licence for waste management but was refused and had now sold off his trucks.
Donal O Laoire, environmental consultant, said the site had been very well covered and concealed and it took some time to detect the illegally dumped waste which included chemical waste and human blood.
He was concerned about risk waste that would transform into gas or contain contaminants which could escape into the Carrigower River which had the highest quality river water and flowed into the Slaney. Drainage ditches from the site were also going directly into the Carrigower River.
Mr O Laoire said that when a bore hole was dug on the illegal site, Sonia Deane, Assistant Engineer with Wicklow County Council, collapsed after being exposed to gas and was taken to hospital. Gas tended to come up from these sites and could cause explosions when it entered residences.
Mr O Laoire said the site was totally unsuitable for waste dumping because of its permeable soil which meant that contaminants from the residue could also seep right down to the ground water level. The site could have a lifetime of 40 years so there would be continuous exposure through generation of contaminants in that time.
The court heard that Watson's attempt to go into the business had been a disaster and that he owed a huge amount of money, forcing him to remortgage his home.