Divers removing 30-year-old junk reef off California coast

AP News
Posted: Oct 18, 2017 8:06 PM
Divers removing 30-year-old junk reef off California coast

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Divers are removing hundreds of old tires, plastic jugs and other junk that was dumped off the Southern California coast nearly 30 years ago by a man who thought he was helping the ocean environment.

The California Coastal Commission says the cleanup began last week off Newport Beach.

In 1988, Rodolphe Streichenberger dumped 1,500 used tires, 2,000 plastic jugs, 20-foot sections of PVC pipe and other materials.

Streichenberger hoped the experimental artificial reef would anchor kelp forests, grow mussels and rebuild damaged ocean habitat.

Scientists say the tires contained toxins, plastics harm ocean life, and divers found no thriving ecosystem.

Streichenberger fought a long battle against the Coastal Commission, which denied him a project permit. The California Supreme Court ruled against him in 2005. He died the next year.