Divers are fishing thousands of tires from the seafloor in the south of France after researchers discovered emissions of toxic chemicals coming from an artificial reef.
The failed 1980’s recycling initiative which was originally composed of 25,000 old tires and stretches between Cannes and Antibes has caused marine life to avoid the seawall, environmentalists say.
“It was hoped (it would) restore aquatic life here, but it has not worked — it turned out that this reef of tires was not an environment prolific for the biomass,” said Antibes Deputy Mayor Eric Duplay.
Duplay added that though there has been a boom in “sedentary species” as well as moray eels and sars, that was not the desired result.
This is the second operation to extricate the tires from the seafloor after a push in 2005 caused the removal of 2,500 tires.
Officials say the additional tires will be fished out and sent to Nice where they will be recycled for construction materials.
Patrice Francour of the University of Nice, told local media, “We’re going to let the area recover naturally and continue to monitor it with sensors to measure how this marine protected area, which is for us a kind of laboratory, will evolve.”
The idea, proposed by rubber-tire-making tycoon Goodyear was introduced in the 1960’s and appears along shorelines of countries around the world. The United States has over 1,000 artificial reefs, while others were constructed in the Gulf of Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, and Africa.