Tire Island Clean-up in British Columbia - the mystery!



As reported by Bhinder Sajan - CTV News Vancouver

B.C. ocean cleanup workers who dismantled what they're calling "tire island" – sending more than 2,000 of the parts to be recycled – are trying to figure out how the tires got there, and why they seem to have been left there for decades.

On the Sunshine Coast is a small island called Nelson Island, which has very a very small number of permanent residents. Off its coast, an even smaller island that is home to a big mystery.

Abby McLennan with the organization Let's Talk Trash was scouting areas in the ocean from which workers could remove garbage. When she spotted something black, she decided to take a closer look.

"As we came in there was it was just mountains of tires. It was like, 'Those are hundreds of tires, if not thousands,'" she told CTV News.

"(It was) super bizarre. That's like an insane amount of tires. How did all these tires even get here?"

The tires were above the water line, which made the situation even stranger.


In her search for an answer, McLennan said she's only heard rumours.

It's the same for Sam Harding, who is a co-owner of Harding Barging and Oyster Bros. ventures. His home is right next to "tire island"

"I heard a barge was in distress," Harding told CTV News.

"And then another theory was an oyster farm from back in the 80s had a plan with some tires, same idea barges sinking. They thought was the closest place to put them," Harding added.

McLennan also said she has heard various stories from locals.

"I have no idea how these tires got here, but it was definitely an operation of some sort because it was a huge operation to get the tires off," she added.

CTV News asked the Transportation Safety Board for information -- but they say their records don't go back far enough. Pinning down a firm date for when the tires ended up where they did is a challenge, and no one CTV News spoke to knew when or how the tires showed up.


In late October, Let's Talk Trash, in partnership with the Ocean Legacy Foundation, Tire Stewardship BC and Liberty Tire Recycling banded together to remove the tires. With funding from the province, 33 people dismantled the mountain of rubber over two days. Many were compensated for their time as part of the province's "Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative." The final count showed 2,409 scrap tires.

Liberty Tire Recycling will now take them apart, take out the fibre and turn them into one-inch chunks of rubber. Some will be coloured and made into garden mulch. They may even end up as rubberized horse mats, running tracks or playgrounds.

Joe Pitre with Liberty Tire Recycling said he wasn't surprised by the find, but did say this was a complex operation, pointing to the fact workers removed the tires by hand and not using any machinery.

"I don't think it would be the necessarily the biggest haul, definitely one of the more difficult ones, obviously, as they had to be barged off an island," he said.

Now that they're gone, the natural habitat shines once again. It's a relief for Harding who now plans to get his oyster business up and running.

McLennan hopes by raising the issue someone will come forward with the information.

"Maybe it will just remain a mystery," she mused, adding "the tires are where they should be now."

And that may be reason enough for those involved to pump their own tires.

Read the full article here.