Three former directors of a company called Ecoversion Logistics have been convicted and fined $78,000 for their part in a failed tyre recycling venture.
The trio appeared before Judge David Kirkpatrick in the Tauranga District Court last week.
The charges relate to the breach of two abatement notices, with Alan Merrie and daughter Angela Merrie each being fined $28,500 and Jonathan Spencer fined $21,000, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council said in a statement.
The abatement notices were issued by Bay of Plenty Regional Council in August 2015 to put a stop to the stockpiling of tens of thousands of tyres at sites at Kawerau and Waihī Beach and also required their correct disposal.
An estimated 1200 tonnes of tyres were stockpiled at the Kawerau site and a further 900 tonnes at the Waihī Beach site.
Senior regulatory compliance officer John Holst said the defendants began stockpiling tyres for a tyre recycling venture before the recycling plant had been established and before the required resource consents had been obtained.
When the defendants' tyre recycling project failed, mountains of used tyres were left sitting at the unconsented sites at Kawerau and Waihi Beach.
"The problem with end of life tyre mountains is over time they leach contaminants that ultimately end up in groundwater. These tyre mountains also present a huge fire risk. A recent tyre fire near Christchurch that had significant effects on the local community involved around 20,000 tyres.
"The Ecoversion venture resulted in the creation of two separate tyre mountains consisting of more than 200,000 tyres so you can imagine the environmental damage if either of these tyre stockpiles had caught on fire," Holst said in a statement.
"Once we became aware of the tyre stockpiles we spent a considerable amount of time working with Ecoversion's representatives to get the best outcome for the environment. It was a frustratingly slow process with a series of promises made that were not delivered on. Unfortunately there are still thousands tyres from the failed Ecoversion venture at a Kawerau site today.
"Judge Kirkpatrick's sentencing decision makes it clear that directors of companies cannot avoid their responsibilities by blaming others.
"Judge Kirkpatrick's sentencing decision also sends a clear message that those disposing of tyres need to ensure they are disposed of appropriately at an approved site. It's not okay to simply stockpile end of life tyres in the Bay of Plenty."
The three defendants had until 30 April 2018 to remove the remaining tyres from the Kawerau site.