Million of tires dumped decades ago in an unsuccessful attempt to create artificial reefs are now being retrieved from the ocean.
According to scientists, around 200 artificial reefs made of tires are in existence worldwide, notably in waters off the United States, Japan, Malaysia and Israel. In most cases, such efforts were halted after tires were found to be unstable.
But decades later and after millions of tires have been sent to the deep, authorities worried about pollution are starting to reverse the trend and haul the tires back. The problem has been that the tyres have been dragged around by the currents and in many cases broken up, damaging the ecosystem and failing to attract the marine life expected.
Tires are toxic
"If colonisation never took place, it's because the used tires are covered with hydrocarbons. When they break up over time, they release heavy metals into the environment that are toxic for marine life," Jacky Bonnemains, from the Robin Hood environmental pressure group, stated to phys.org
Both in Florida where up to 2 million tires was dumped during the 1970s and along the French Riviera authorities have started operations to remove the tires. On the French Riviera coast, a pilot scheme to remove around 2,000 tires, is expected to be extended next year to reclaim all 25,000 tyres under the sea between Cannes and Antibes. Meanwhile in Florida divers have restarted tire retrieval from an estimated 700,000 dropped near Fort Lauderdale in 1972, hoping to retrieve 90,000 on top of 62,000 already exhumed.