ABC Won't Tell Who Caused Ecological Disaster

     Up to two million tires are at the bottom of the ocean floor off the coast of Florida. They damage reefs, wash up on the beach and create a hazard for beachgoers. How did they get there? Don’t ask ABC News.


     With the power of government and the green movement of the 1970s, the process was set into motion to build artificial reefs from used tires. All ABC could say was that “someone” had gotten the idea going.


     “This is one of those ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ stories,” said ABC Correspondent Jeffrey Kofman.


     On the June 6 broadcast of “World News,” Kofman reported just how this concept was set into motion. “More than 30 years ago, someone had the good idea of solving two problems at once – get rid of a lot of used tires and at the same time, create an artificial reef to attract fish, coral and tourists.”


     The fish never took to the artificial reefs, though, and the tires ended up causing more damage to the existing natural reefs. “What’s happening is the tires are bumping up against the coral, breaking pieces off, causing adverse impacts to the natural system,” Holly Bamford, an oceanographer for the NOAA Marine Debris Program, told ABC News.


      “It will cost several million dollars. It will take several years ( to fix the problem),” Kofman said. How much exactly? The Washington Post reported it will take $3 million to $5 million, most of that provided by the taxpayers, just to dispose of the tires once they are retrieved from the bottom of the ocean floor.


     However, the ABC story avoided pinning the blame on any specific cause or government agency. “So back in 1972 with government approval, flotillas of boats headed off shore to heave tires into the ocean,” added Kofman.


     The truth is, Ray McAllister, a professor emeritus of ocean engineering at Florida Atlantic University, was instrumental in pushing the original idea forward. Then the idea got government support. According to an Associated Press story, the effort won approval of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and local county officials. McAllister helped found Broward Artificial Reef, Inc., the company that organized the effort to build what is called “Osborn Reef.”


     According to a July 18, 2003 South Florida Sun-Sentinel story, Gregory McIntosh, also a member of McAllister’s Broward Artificial Reef Inc., gave a presentation at Texas A&M about the uses of tires to create artificial reefs. “Tires, which were an esthetic pollutant ashore, could be recycled, so to speak, to build a fishing reef at sea,” McIntosh said. However, McIntosh declined to comment about the tire reefs to the Sun-Sentinel in 2003.


     McIntosh now runs his own reef consulting company and was named the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force’s director of Latin Affairs in 1999.  The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force is a federal government agency created by the Clinton Administration in 1998. In 1999, the agency adopted the Department of State's statement on coral bleaching and climate change blaming “anthropogenic global warming” for “increasing sea surface temperatures, the extensive coral bleaching, and the coral mortality that has occurred.” 


     The construction of artificial reefs out of waste products was a practice touted by some environmental causes for “improving fish habitat.” The December 1985 issue of National Geographic reported a National Marine Fisheries Service study that showed “catches over a tire-and-vessel artificial reef equaled those over nearby natural rock reefs.”