WAV-C Tire Clean-Up Project
Puget Sound, one of the world's most beautiful and vital ecosystems, is home to a diverse array of marine life, including the endangered Southern Resident orca. However, it also faces several environmental threats, such as tire pollution. According to the WA State Department of Ecology, there are an estimated 500,000 tires scattered throughout the Puget Sound waterways. These tires were dumped in the 1970's and 1980's to create artificial reefs and breakwaters. However, over time, the tires have begin to degrade, releasing harmful chemicals into the water.
These chemicals, including zinc, copper, lead, and cadmium, can be toxic to aquatic life and human health. For example, lead exposure can cause brain damage and developmental delays in children.
There tires also pose a physical hazard to marine life. Animals can become entangled in the tires, leading to injury or death. Additionally, the tires can damage seagrass beds and other critical marine habitats.
Tire pollution has a significant impact on the environment and economy of Puget Sound. It reuces fish populations, tourism revenue, and increases water treatment costs.
On October 25th, WAV-C and partner SERCO will conduct a survey to locate and map tire dump sites in a two-square-mile area of the Illahee waterways between Bremerton and Bainbridge Island. The goal is to identify specific locations for future removal. Once the survey is complete, WAV-C will work with a variety of partners to develop and implement a safe cleanup plan. While the environmental remediation of our local waterways is a long-term project, the October 25th survey is an important step towards achieving the goal of a clean and healthy Puget Sound.
WAV-C's mission is to accelerate innovation across the state and federal landscape for autonomous and unmanned vehicles, enable Washington companies to succeed, and restore our waterways. We are aiming to make the Pacific Northwest the premier destination for all autonomous maritime technologies and become the standard for international excellence.
Everyone can play a role in protecting the Puget Sound form tire pollution. Here are a few:
Dispose of tires properly. Never dump tires in the water or on the side of the road.
Recycle tires whenever possible.
Support organizations that are working to clean up tire dump sites.
Educate others about the environmental impacts of tire pollution.