In the early 1970’s the idea of using old tires to create artificial reef system growth was thought to be an ingenious way to solving our tire disposal problem while also providing a much needed ecological benefit.
Well as it turns out, things did bit go as smoothly as expected and the results have been more or less catastrophic. As it turns out, the the tires hardly generated any additional marine/coral growth and the materials used to bind them decayed leaving a mess of lose tires on our sea floor.
These tires are now being scattered and tossed about by storms and currents. These tires are now bumping into and lodging in natural reefs thereby putting them at risk.
In the 1970s and ’80s, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina and California also built reefs with used tires. Before long, loose tires washed ashore, came up in fishing nets, piled against natural structures and, in some cases, simply disappeared. The main problem — according to a Gulf and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commissions report — is that tires last indefinitely in the marine environment, but materials used to weigh down and connect them do not.
Starting in 2007, U.S. Navy and Army divers spent three years removing more than 70,000 of the errant tires. In 2015, a commercial contractor began an effort to remove 100,000 more tires over the next two years, and Broward County officials plan to request state funding to continue beyond that effort. Tires recovered so far have been used as fuel at a nearby energy plant.
Massive cleanup efforts have been enacted across the world from France to Florida, but a large portion of the tires — once intended to help marine life flourish — are left as a detriment on the ocean floor.