HERNANDO COUNTY (CBSMiami) – A human-made artificial reef, designed to help marine life, is actually, now a pile of toxic tires and crews are working to remove them.

Dozens of car tires were put in the Gulf, off Tampa, back in the 1970s as part of an ecological operation for sea life.

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“They, for some reason, thought tires would create habitat because of the space inside the tire,” explains Keith Kolasa, Manager of Hernando County Waterways. However, it did not work.

Nothing can grow on the tires and now they are considered toxic and causing damage in the coastal Florida waters.

(Credit: WFTS via CNN)

“We’re fixing the mistakes of the past,” says Kolasa.

Most of the tires have been underwater for at least 40 years and they are toxic.

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“They don’t make good reef material, they’re considered garbage,” says Kolasa.

Crews, including a kids’ scuba diving program, are working to remove them.

Nolan McEntire, 15, is part of the youth diving program Scubanauts, helping clean up the tires near the Richardson Reef, 16 miles off the coast of Hernando Beach.

“You have like the natural reef and they you just have this trash sitting right next to it, where it does not belong, “says McEntire.

They hope to have all of the tires gone in about a year.

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