Underwatertimes.com News Service - August 22, 2006 23:41 EST

In the 1970s, nearly 2 million tires were tossed into the ocean in hopes of creating an artificial reef. Now, a study is under way to see if the tires can be removed since they are actually damaging the coral reefs.

The Broward County Environmental Protection Department is partnering with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Navy Salvage Divers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program, to conduct a pilot project to remove the waste tires from the coast.

The tires cover 36 acres of the Osborne Reef off Broward County. The reef is 7,000 feet offshore of Sunrise Boulevard at a depth of 65 feet.

Osborne Reef is an artificial reef made out of concrete jacks arranged in a 50-foot diameter circle surrounded by the extensive tire field.

The pilot project will collect sample tires to determine how the tires can be collected and disposed of properly.

The Navy, along with the U.S. Army, will also conduct a feasibility analysis to determine how the cleanup of the tire pile could serve as a training opportunity for military divers and watercraft operations.