Tired of Tires



Like many well-intentioned ideas from the 1970s gone horribly wrong—leisure suits, prog rock, the Mustang II, the 8-track, and blowing Wilbur Mills leap to mind—the 1972 project to dump two million tires off the coast of Florida has come a cropper. What was supposed to be an artificial reef brimming with life has instead become an undulating 36-acre dead-zone on the sea floor:

"They thought it would be a good fish habitat. It turned out to be a bad idea," said William Nuckols, project coordinator and military liaison for Coastal America, a federal group involved in the cleanup. "It's a coastal coral destruction machine."

The small matter of securing the tires together so that they do not bulldoze the seabed as they move with the tides and the currents was overlooked. Actually, fasteners were used on the tires, but they quickly rusted away. Who knew?

Estimates are that it could take $5 million to pick up the tires, haul them back to dry land, and recycle them or bury them in landfill. As the Lord intended.

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  1. Enviornmentalists of the 1970s wrong? I’m shocked! Shocked!

  2. It might have been the metal fasteners that were the bad idea here. At least in a reef tank, metal of any kind is one of the worst things you can have in there. In the ocean, fish and inverts will almost certainly move elsewhere.

  3. Prog rock as an example of something horribly wrong?? I’m cancelling my suscription as soon as I get one. Seriously, that’s not cool. At all. Prog-rock may be the best example of the only thing ever gotten right since I don’t even know what.

  4. ko –

    Spock’s Beard.

    Game, set, match.

  5. You win some, you lose some. I guess they should stick to trains, planes, and automobiles. And ships.

    Though there’s a pretty good market for recycled metals already existing, without dumping them on the bottom of the sea.

  6. Space shuttles?

  7. 5 million? Heck, my senators probably spent more than that on whores and blow since the beginning of the year.

  8. 5 mil to clean up 36 acres?

  9. Can’t they just use the oxygen-destroyer?

  10. Send the tires to the sun. They’ll incinerate before landing.

    So, somewhere between all those glowing reports about actual fish habitat created (with pictures) and now the idea stopped working? As I recall, it was working fine. Now it’s not. It’s like my old girlfriend used to say when confronted with the truth so, which time was I lying?

    I’m skeptical of something. Not sure what side, but something don’t smell right.

    And if metal is a bad idea why do shipwrecks make such great dive spots? I mean try to make out the actual outline of the ship in any number of photos of underwater derelicts that are covered with marine life.

    Here’s one

  11. Shecky

    Cost of cleanup: $45,000

    Cost of payoffs: $2,455,000

    Profit: $2,500,000

  12. And if metal is a bad idea why do shipwrecks make such great dive spots?

    I suspect that shipwrecks have a lot more material. It takes longer for it to rust away.

    These tires were probably linked with light chain or wire.

  13. I don’t think the metal itself is a problem, except for the fact that it wouldn’t last long as a fastener.

    My guess, from a very limited knowledge of organic chemistry, is that the tires themselves were the source of the toxins which created the dead zone.

  14. Aresen,

    It’s not the toxins, it’s the mechanical force of the tires being dragged around the sea floor by the currents and tides.

  15. Wingnutx wins the thread.

  16. without prog rock the world would be full of Fingerbang…

  17. Guys, without even reading the story, you’re getting off-track. It was the physical dragging of tires by currents and tides which caused a bulldozing effect of any reef that might form around it. There’s no mention of toxins being an issue. Plus, the metal wasn’t ‘bad’, it was used to secure the tires. However, things like cable and chains rust in saltwater. Crazy, I know. Who woulda thunk it?

  18. Well, prog rock was pretty bad… Rick Wakeman on ice anyone?

  19. Sailing on the seven seize the day tripper diem’s ready Jack the ripper owns Wilson Phillips and my supper’s ready Lucy in the sky with diamond dave’s not here I come to save the Day for nightmare cinema show me the way to get back home again.

    Flying off the handle with careful with That axe Eugene gene the dance machine
    Messiah light my fire gabba gabba Hey hey my my generation’s home again

  20. Metal probably isn’t the problem, but don’t forget there’s metal in the tires, too.

  21. Wait, is this a joke? Was that really an idea? Did this really happen? I never heard of this. Wow, we went down a really weird wing of the labyrinth in the 70s.

  22. What a day for me! I read a reference to Wilbur Mills and then, in the comments, somebody’s posted Dream Theater lyrics.

    While I find these references rewarding I can’t remember whether or not I ever responded to that IRS letter, and recognizing the references is not making me any richer.

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