It Seemed Like a Good Idea…
Divers off the coast of Florida have begun to dismantle a failed artificial reef project dating from the 1970s and containing as many as two million old tyres. A dive team will conduct a month long pilot project in which a number of salvage techniques will be trialled in order to gain an understanding of the skills and equipment required to remove the tyres. Once the clean up operation begins divers will work at dismantling the reef for several months a year over the next few years.
It all began with high hopes three decades ago – the idea was to alleviate the pressure on tyre landfills while simultaneously creating a new marine habitat. However it transpired that sea life do not especially care for tyres and few marine creatures could be persuaded into taking up residence. As a result the anticipated underwater wonderland instead remained a pile of two million submerged tyres.
Worse news came when some of the bundles of tyres bound together with nylon and steel broke loose and began scouring the ocean floor and washing up on beaches. Others became wedged up against the nearby natural reef, blocking coral growth and annihilating marine life.
The recovered tyres will be shipped by road to a facility in Georgia where they will be burned to create energy to power a paper recycling plant. The entire tyre removal operation is expected to run through 2010.