Florida`s `Tire Reef` Has Turned Into an Environmental Disaster

December 18,2015 at 06:58 am


It was once believed to be a life-saver for the environment, but now, everyone just wants it to go away.

The artificial reef made of 700,000 old tires that was "built" off the coast of Fort Lauderdale in the 1970s was supposed to attract fish and allow new coral to grow, the Sun Sentinel reported.

"There are just tires for as far as you can see," Pat Quinn, a Broward County biologist, told the Sun Sentinel. "People who see it for the first time come to the surface and say, `Oh, my God.`"

But this 35-acre graveyard of rubber needs to be removed as soon as possible because the project has not gone as the experts had hoped. The metal clips holding the tires together were corroded by the salt water, freeing them from their restraints and damaging the coral nearby, according to CBS News.

"Right now it`s just a wasteland," Alex Delgado, coordinator of the dive project to remove the tires, told CBS News. "It`s tires everywhere. Now we need to correct it before it does additional damage."

Earlier this year, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection approved $1.6 million in state funding to be used for the cleanup operations, Orlando Weekly reported. Day after day, divers are removing hundreds of tires from the ocean floor as they work diligently and carefully to exhume the failed project while, at the same time, keeping nearby wildlife unharmed.

The divers will be able to remove an additional 90,000 tires from the artificial reef; 72,000 were removed by military divers during training exercises from 2007 to 2009, the Sun Sentinel also said. That leaves more than half a million tires that won`t be touched during this project, many of which are buried in sand and can`t be disturbed due to wildlife. Experts told the Sun Sentinel that they`re still trying to decide what to do about the remaining tire reef.

As the tires are brought out of the water, they are trucked to a Port Everglades facility to be burned for electricity, Orlando Weekly added.