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An estimated 700,000 tires were dropped into the ocean off Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in the early 1970s in a failed attempt to create an artificial reef. At the time, before anyone had figured out how to recycle tires or burn them for electricity, tire dumps were appearing all over the United States.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection budgeted $1.6 million for the work and hired Industrial Divers Corp. of Fort Lauderdale to start cleaning up the mess. The two-year job will remove about 90,000 tires from the highest-priority area, about three-fourths of a mile off shore, where loose tires are backing up against one of the natural reefs.

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