The owner of a downtown Los Angeles salvage firm faces up to seven years in prison and a $200,000 fine after pleading no contest Monday to three charges of illegally dumping toxic wastes.
The defendant, Rodney Dean, 69, is the first person to be charged with a felony under state toxic waste laws, officials said.
Dean, whose salvage yard at 700 S. Santa Fe Ave. has been targeted as the No. 1 site in Southern California for cleanup under the state Superfund program, entered the plea to charges stemming from the dumping of toxic waste-laden electrical transformers in a desert area north of Ontario International Airport, Deputy Dist. Atty. Barry Groveman said.
Assisted by Employee
Groveman said that Dean admitted to having dumped the transformers--which contained extremely hazardous amounts of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)--after an investigation prompted by disclosures of former employee of Dean's firm, Rodney Dean & Associates.
Dean and a driver had taken two 6-foot-by-6-foot transformers on a flatbed truck late last year, Groveman said. The leaking transformers contained PCB in the range of 620,000 parts per million--far in excess of the 50 ppm level above which the state considers PCB hazardous, Groveman said.
Dean, who entered his plea in Los Angeles Municipal Court, has been on probation since 1982, when he was convicted of misdemeanors stemming from the illegal dumping of PCBs, the prosecutor added.
"This is a classic midnight dumping case," asserted Groveman, who heads the county's Toxic Waste Strike Force, adding that it has "cost the taxpayers tremendous amounts of money needlessly."
Groveman estimated that the cleanup of Dean's salvage yard will cost $250,000 and that officials in San Bernardino County, where the leaking transformers were dumped, had been forced to quarantine and clean the site, located near a flowing stream.
Dean, who could not be reached for comment, is scheduled for sentencing on the felony charges June 17 in Los Angeles Superior Court. He is also scheduled to be sentenced May 21 in Los Angeles Municipal Court for probation violations for which he faces a one-year jail term and $50,000 fine, Groveman said.