A tyre recycling company in Co Down has blamed problems resulting from the Japanese tsunami for waste offences which triggered a £120,000 confiscation order.
OM Recycling, which employs eight people at a plant in Mayobridge, said the large financial penalty imposed by the Department of Environment under the Proceeds of Crime Order was "wholly disproportionate".
A waste licence allowed the company to store up to 250 tonnes of unprocessed and shredded tyres inside two sheds. But a 2009 inspection found they were storing 500,000 tyres inside bales placed outside a licensed area.
DOE said directors Gerard Farmer (45) of Fincairn Road, Londonderry and Gerard O'Malley (46) of Ballintemple Road, Newry admitted excess tyres have been stored contrary to the licence.
But the company said it had to store the tyre bales temporarily because a Japanese client stopped imports after the tsunami of 2011.
Mr Farmer claimed the DOE was aware the bales were being stored "as safely as possible". "This breach was a technicality, not a malicious crime and I am concerned that our corporate reputation should be put at such risk by a government agency."
DOE said that the site had since been cleared and that the business was now "largely compliant".