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article imageOsborne Reef: A Tired Disaster

By Debra Myers     Jun 8, 2007 in Environment
Florida--What started out to be a massive man-made reef, completely made out of old tires, has turned into an ecological disaster. The tires have begun to move around, causing damage to nearby a coral reef, as well as getting washed onto the beaches.
Osborn Reef was the brainchild of a non-profit group called Broward Artificial Reef, or BARINC, back in the Spring of 1972. The idea was to create a reef using old tires thus keeping them out of the dumps. It took only days to build.
Now, decades later, those 700,000 tires have started to come apart. "Metal clips holding the tires together corroded, and the tires spilled across the ocean floor. Unlike sunken barges also used to build artificial reefs, the tires moved with the tide, and marine life never formed."
This past week, efforts have begun with the help of the U.S. Army, Navy and Coast Guard divers, to begin the clean up of these thousands of tires. The projected time frame to get them all back out of the water is simply that it's going to take years, to at least 2010. Thursday, the process was halted after 1600 tires were retrieved due to thunderstorms and wind-whipped waters.
Removing these tires will also be costly. The estimated cost of doing this is nearly $30 million...if done commercially. However, the U.S. Navy is offering its services free of charge, to give their divers real life experience in the 65 to 70 feet of water. The Navy crew will be from their Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2, that's based in Virgina. Divers will get the tires, load them onto a U.S. Army landing craft, which will take the tires to their next destination: Port Everglades dock.
Florida's Department of Environmental Protection is interested in these tires, for either disposal or recycling. Some of the tires will not be able to be recycled because "many of them are encrusted with marine life such as sponges and barnacles." These would probably end up back in a landfill.
It may have started out a grand idea but it not only failed structurally, but it never drew the game fish it was intended to. Very sad.
Sometimes, man just needs to leave well enough alone.
Additional source.
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