Military divers to help in tire cleanup

Dec. 20, 2011 at 1:01 PM
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Military divers will help clear thousands of discarded tires dumped of the south Florida coast in a failed attempt to create artificial reefs, officials said.

Broward County has requested the return of Army and Navy divers to haul up thousands of the waste tires, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Monday.

Previous operations had recovered about 72,000 tires before being suspended as the divers became needed in the war in Iraq, earthquake rescue in Haiti and other operations, the newspaper said.

The military divers are almost certain to return, Army Capt. Tim O'Hara, commander of the 511 Engineer Dive Detachment based at Fort Eustis, Va., said.

"We have a lot of guys who really want to go back and do this," he said.

About 2 million tires were dropped into the water to create artificial reefs to provide habitat for fish, crustaceans, sponges and corals, but the attempt failed as few marine creatures made their homes on the slippery rubber surfaces and the bundled tires broke apart and drifted onto natural reefs, killing corals.

No one expects all 2 million or so tires to be hauled up, officials said, but the most urgent task is to recover some 300,000 tires on the western edge of the area that threaten an adjacent coral reef.

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