Divers began removing up to 2 million tires from the ocean floor off Florida’s southeast coast. The used tires were dumped there in the 1970s to create an artificial reef, a scheme that turned into an ecological disaster. The idea was to create new marine habitat and alternate dive sites with what was touted as the world’s largest artificial tire reef. The plan also served to dispose of tires that were clogging landfills.
But little sea life formed on the tires dumped about a mile offshore in 1972. Some of the bundles bound together with nylon and steel have broken loose and are scouring the ocean floor and washing up on beaches. Others are wedging up against the nearby natural reef, blocking coral growth and devastating marine life.
Army and Navy salvage divers began removing the tires today.
The entire operation is expected to run through 2010.