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Old Subway Cars As Artificial Reef

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the take-the-a-train-to-the-bottom dept.

Earth 169

Pickens writes "Hundreds of retired New York City subway cars are being sunk sixteen nautical miles off Delaware's Indian River Inlet and about 80 feet underwater, continuing the transformation of a barren stretch of ocean floor into a bountiful oasis, carpeted in sea grasses, walled thick with blue mussels and sponges, and teeming with black sea bass and tautog. 'They're basically luxury condominiums for fish,' says Jeff Tinsman, artificial reef program manager for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. Subway cars are roomy enough to invite certain fish, too heavy to shift easily in storms, and durable enough to avoid throwing off debris for decades. Tinsman particularly favors the newer subway cars with stainless steel on the outside to create reefs. 'We call these the DeLoreans of the deep,' he said. But success comes at a price because other states, seeing Delaware's successes, have started competing for the subway cars, which New York City provides free. 'The secret is out, I guess,' said Michael G. Zacchea, the MTA official in charge of getting rid of New York City's old subway cars."

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Good idea! (5, Funny)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#23009874)

This shore is a good idea! (speaking littorally of course)

Very apt (4, Informative)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 6 years ago | (#23009930)

Nice one :-)

littoral -adjective 1. of or pertaining to the shore of a lake, sea, or ocean.


Even Better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23010782)

How about using all the iPod competitors that have failed ? Or Gene Simmons used contraceptives ? Ick! But the fish would love it.

Re:Good idea! (5, Funny)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010078)

This shore is a good idea! (speaking littorally of course)

I'd mod you up if I could but the masses probably think you are fishing for mod points...

Re:Good idea! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23010498)

Oh, cod. This kind of thing makes me eel. I'm net that kind of buoy, sea? Is there really any porpoise to this, or are we carping and whaling?

Ok, enough about this tail of roe ...

Re:Good idea! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23012514)

Just for the halibut; you certainly put him in his plaice...

Re:Good idea! (0, Redundant)

FutureDomain (1073116) | more than 6 years ago | (#23012184)

In Soviet Delaware, subway cars sink YOU!

CSI NY (0, Redundant)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 6 years ago | (#23009906)

Are these the same as the ones on the CSI NY episode like last year?

Fools! (5, Funny)

jimmux (1096839) | more than 6 years ago | (#23009916)

'We call these the DeLoreans of the deep,'

You fools! If the dolphins develop time travel there will be no stopping them!

Memories (-1, Offtopic)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#23009924)

Near, far, wherever you are, I believe that the heart does go on ...

Sorry, it got stuck in my head
     

Re:Memories (5, Funny)

robo_mojo (997193) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010126)

Sorry, it got stuck in my head

Please keep it there!

Oceans need more man made stuff in them! (5, Funny)

Shadukar (102027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23009938)

1. dump some old trash in the previously perfectly fine ocean
2. ???
3. LUXURY CONDOMINIUMS FOR FISH

Re:Oceans need more man made stuff in them! (0, Troll)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010152)

1. Convince Public Its A Good Idea To Dump Junk In The Ocean
2. Dump The Junk In The Ocean
3. Change The "Allowed" Fishing Area's
4. Create New Fishing Boats
5. ???
6. Profit.

Re:Oceans need more man made stuff in them! (5, Insightful)

Scruffy Dan (1122291) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010194)

in the previously perfectly fine ocean
The ocean hasn't been previously fine for a very long time now.

Re:Oceans need more man made stuff in them! (5, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011254)

We've also been leaving large steel objects on the ocean floor for quite some time (>100 years), both accidentally [wikipedia.org] and deliberately [wikipedia.org] . These are the least of our concerns when talking about ocean pollution. If you actually want to do something about the ocean start talking about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch [wikipedia.org] , because that's far more harmful to marine life then a few sunken subway cars or ships that actually provide shelter for fish and a surface for coral to grow on.

Re:Oceans need more man made stuff in them! (1)

squidbass (1266814) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011938)

The ocean is the ultimate solution.

Re:Oceans need more man made stuff in them! (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010526)

"Hey, I've got a brilliant idea for how to cheaply dispose of our trash! We just pay off a few researchers and convince the government that our waste products are actually beneficial for the environment!"

Oh no! (2, Funny)

The Beast Beneath (1267068) | more than 6 years ago | (#23009940)

The fish will create vast underground cities, and soon they will begin a hostile takeover!

2000 years from now... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#23009942)

..."look, we finally found Atlantis! How else could all this stuff get here?"
     

Re:2000 years from now... (5, Funny)

drspliff (652992) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010204)

New york was where?

"A new discovery by our great leader shows ancient American maps may be off by 200 miles, our great leaders scientists believe New York may have been situated at the opening of the Delaware Bay; alternative theories suggest these submerged relics may have been attributed somehow to experiments at the Black Mesa facility (formerly CERN-LHC) in 2009"

[history] (net.earth.news) 34899 points posted 3 mars hours ago by GreatLeader

Halliburton retaliates against France!

"The Great Leader has sent supporting troops to support Halliburton forces in retaliation following French aggression last week against the sovereign nation. Live holostream and kill-cam with Geraldo Rivera's clone from 7pm."

[worldnews] (net.earth.actualités) 19148 points posted 5 mars hours ago by GreatLeader

Re:2000 years from now... (3, Interesting)

dstates (629350) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011272)

Artificial reefs have not been a universal success. The State of Florida is spending millions to clean up dumped tires from the Osborne Reef [wikipedia.org] .

staying free? (1)

Dannkape (1195229) | more than 6 years ago | (#23009968)

How long until NYC starts charging for the cars?
(and how much can they make this way while still making people want them?)

Re:staying free? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011622)

I'm surprised they aren't selling them for scrap. A common automobile crushes at more than 200 dollars. Subway cars contain many more tons of easily recoverable steel, copper wiring, etc. A crew could easily scrap them on-site at a trainyard.

Typo (5, Insightful)

arotenbe (1203922) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010016)

Subway cars are roomy enough to invite certain fish, too heavy to shift easily in storms, and durable enough that we won't have to care about them throwing off debris for decades.
There, fixed it for you.

The last thing I need when I scuba diving (4, Funny)

Centurix (249778) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010050)

Getting mugged by a harpoon weilding, cowry shell demanding aquatic gang member. Insane.

Great idea (1)

Krellan (107440) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010090)

What a great idea!

And, this article coming right after the article showing how the major oilfield in North Dakota might just be viable.

There's hope for this country yet!

I wish there were some underwater photos showing what the subway cars are like after spending several years underwater. (The CGI animation doesn't count.)

asbestos (4, Interesting)

dancingmad (128588) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010098)

I actually read this article earlier today (they're coming for my slashdot credibility card!) and it mentioned the amount of asbestos and other materials in the cars. Does anyone know how that comes into play in a marine environment?

Re:asbestos (5, Funny)

McNally (105243) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010140)

Does anyone know how that comes into play in a marine environment?
Clearly the fish will be at an increased risk of lung cancer.

Re:asbestos (5, Funny)

pherthyl (445706) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010288)

On the other hand their risk of dying in a fire will decrease drastically..

Re:asbestos (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011240)

hahaha, that was great... thanks for making my morning better :)

Re:asbestos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23011796)

The subway cars are stripped of anything harmful before they're sunk.

Re:asbestos (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010164)

Not to mention the other stuff they toss into them just before plunging them down into the ocean...

"hey, that new mechanical reef glows at night"

"oh dont worry about that, its just the jellyfish"

Re:asbestos (1)

Scruffy Dan (1122291) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010166)

That was my first worry as well. I would love to see more info on what (if any) chemical leach out of these thing into the marine environment and what (if any) effects those chemicals would have.

Re:asbestos (5, Interesting)

adolf (21054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010190)

Asbestos is a real danger to humans because it gets stuck in lungs. Fish, lacking lungs, shouldn't have this problem. Stuff goes *through* the gills, not into and out of them. My experience keeping fish shows that solids regularly pass through the gills of fish in the process of eating.

The asbestos is probably safer down there than anywhere else, I'd guess.

Re:asbestos (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011512)

IIRC, the biggest cost of creating any of these artificial reefs is stripping out asbestos, oils, and other contaminants.

Re:asbestos (1)

Lxy (80823) | more than 6 years ago | (#23012616)

Even more important, the problem with asbestos is the PARTICLES. A big chunk of asbestos causes no harm, it's the little dust particles coming off of it.

Underwater, there is no dust. In fact, water is needed for proper removal. If you really think about it, the safest place to put asbestos is deep underwater.

Re:asbestos (3, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010192)

As far as I recall, asbestos is really only dangerous to human lungs because, when "disturbed" in an open air environment, it disperses into rather tiny particles that annoy your lungs rather severely.

I'm not sure entirely what relevance that has to a water environment, except that it seems fish's gills work significantly differently than human lungs.

Re:asbestos (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011356)

As far as I recall, asbestos is really only dangerous to human lungs because, when "disturbed" in an open air environment, it disperses into rather tiny particles that annoy your lungs rather severely.
And no other air-breathing creature faces this same risk?

Re:asbestos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23011030)

Though I'm not going to speak officially as a Dept employee, but this is *really* old news. Since isnt something we started while they had me tending a flock of VINES, NT4, and AIX servers. I might be on the the IT side of the Dept, but i know one side of the house cant dump something like railcars with out having the waste group clear it.

Re:asbestos what about other stuff (2, Insightful)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011336)

like hydrocarbon grease and lubricant, paints and coatings with possibly toxic compounds, the plasticizers and antioxidants in the plastic and foam,......
you could keep an entire university of scientists busy for years
and alot of the stuff is probably, if you look hard, sourced from china, so it may not even be what it is supposed to be, eg very very toxix pbbs (poly brominated biphenyls) are banned in civilized countrys..

Re:asbestos (1)

penguin_dance (536599) | more than 6 years ago | (#23012388)

Well if you had comprehended the reading asignment ;-) you would have seen:

"State and federal environmental officials approved the use of the Redbirds and other cars for artificial reefs in Delaware and elsewhere because they said the asbestos was not a risk for marine life and has to be airborne to pose a threat to humans."

Don't forget that asbestos is a naturally made substance [wikipedia.org] , not a man-made one.

Like some new large winery cellars. (4, Interesting)

niktemadur (793971) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010146)

With an eye on recycling materials and reducing construction costs for storage cellars, some wineries in northern Mexico have opted for this great idea:
Dig a deep trench, place old RR cars inside, then fill the trench up again with dirt. And there it is, a cave build like a Lego. A little bit of retrofitting may be necessary, especially where car doors meet, but still, you can save a ton of money in this fashion.
Surely, not only Mexican wineries are using the same technique.

Re:Like some new large winery cellars. (3, Insightful)

Scruffy Dan (1122291) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010202)

usually it is those with the most limited resources that come up with those kinds of ideas.

Re:Like some new large winery cellars. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23010328)

That's why so many patents are partially or fully credited to hobos or derelicts.

Winos and Piss... (1)

retech (1228598) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010168)

actually help the coral and plankton grow!

Re:Winos and Piss... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011608)

actually help the coral and plankton grow!
Oh gods, please kill me... my first thought was that would give him a chance at getting the Krabby Pattie formula. *facepalms*

Dammit, she's not even my kid!!!

Scrap metal value ? (4, Insightful)

artg (24127) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010172)

I thought scrap metal values had gone insane recently - I know this is a sort of recycling, but I'm surprised the cars aren't worth a lot for the steel.

Nifty but not a new idea. (3, Informative)

Werkhaus (549466) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010182)

Brisbane,QLD has had an old Brisbane Transport tram as part of the Curtin Artificial Reef since 1981.
http://www.urgq.org/curtin_artif_reef.htm [urgq.org]

Re:Nifty but not a new idea. (2, Interesting)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010716)

Yeah, I was going to say;

"You call that making a reef? This [youtube.com] is how you make a reef."

In BC we sink old ships to make habitats... (4, Informative)

WoTG (610710) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010210)

Out here we've sunken many ships to make underwater habitats for fish. The boats are stripped of oils, paints, and hazardous stuff before sinking -- well, nowadays, anyway. Great for scuba divers to look at, so I've been told.

I can't find a great link in 10s of searching, but this is a start:
http://www.divingbc.com/ [divingbc.com]

Re:In BC we sink old ships to make habitats... (4, Informative)

Skater (41976) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010946)

Check out the fate of the aircraft carrier USS Orisanky. [wikipedia.org] New York has been dropping subway cars this way for a long time: here are some pictures of Redbird cars being sunk this way [njscuba.net] several years ago (site requires Javascript so they can show you annoying sliding ads on both sides).

Re:In BC we sink old ships to make habitats... (4, Informative)

malkavian (9512) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011092)

Speaking as a Scuba Diver, these artificial reefs are great. It takes a few years to build up life, but eventually, it becomes a great habitat for a huge variety of life. Even in the early days, you get a lot of 'visitors' as fish start poking round in all the nooks and crannies.
Over time, decay does set in, and the 'debris' does come loose. This isn't like street litter though. It tends to stay close to the wreck, and the fragments that are too small tend to rust away rather quickly, or be abraded to a sand.
There are reasonably strict regulations on what can be dumped in as an artificial reef (oil, and all the nasty sea life killing stuff is removed first). And as far as studies go, there's a rich history of wrecks, some of which went down without any cleaning whatsoever, and they are invariably colonised quite rapidly by sea life. Empirical evidence is there aplenty. And with the newer reefs, there are many scuba divers frequenting them (and a good portion of scuba divers are very possessive of the environment, as we get to see the real damage done by running roughshod over it).

Bioaccumulation fears (4, Interesting)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010232)

Hoopla, I tried for ten minutes find anything about the negative impacts of artificial reefs, using Google Scholar ( http://scholar.google.com/ [google.com] ).

I used "artificial" and "reefs" in combinations with words like "bioaccumulation", "pcb", "tyres", "pollutants", "chemicals", etc.

Surprisingly, I only found statements like "needs more research", "no measurable effect" and no-brainers like that.

Could it be that I missed those true alarmist reports I guessed would be there?! One read like:

http://www.flseagrant.org/program_areas/ecosystem_health/artificial_reefs/index.htm#21 [flseagrant.org]

"The oil ash and control reefs were constructed with the aid of divers in just one day, and monitoring of the reefs was carried out for one year. Leaching of trace metals from the blocks was extremely slow, and only limited instances of enhanced bioaccumulation of metals were observed. However, pressure from environmental groups led the electric power industry and the State of Florida to discontinue construction of artificial reefs from stabilized waste material."

I don't want to play this in the hands of waste mongers, but hope some could actually find some more conclusive results.

Don't get me wrong. Play it safe, please.

.

Re:Bioaccumulation fears (3, Informative)

saforrest (184929) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011246)

Could it be that I missed those true alarmist reports I guessed would be there?! One read like:

It's not a scholarly reference, but there are definitely clear examples of deliberately-constructed artificial reefs which were ultimately damaging to marine ecology. Read about the Osborne Reef Waste Tire Removal Pilot Project [state.fl.us] in Florida:

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is partnering with the Broward County Environmental Protection Department, Navy Salvage Divers from Norfolk, VA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program to conduct a pilot project to remove waste tires from a site known as the Osborne Reef. Approximately 2 million tires covering 36 acres were placed in the water off Broward County in the 1970s to create artificial reefs. Today the tires are physically damaging coral reefs as storms move the tires toward the shore. A pilot project will collect sample tires to determine how the 2 million tire pile can be collected and disposed of properly.

Re:Bioaccumulation fears (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011344)

Perhaps the ocean is very large and most of the 'chemicals' in the rail cars are not environmentally persistent?

global warming (-1, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010236)

that's what i want to know, surely this will make global warming worse, right? i mean EVERYTHING else we do seems to be. quickly lets get an expert on to it.

Re:global warming (3, Interesting)

Eivind (15695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010310)

Wouldn't make much of a difference either way to global warming.

To the degree it increases marine biomass, it's just as effective as increasing any OTHER biomass for capyuring CO2. So in theory it would decrease global warming.

Much too small an effect to be measurable.

It -has- been suggested that spreading iron on the ocean in areas where lack of iron is the limiter on plant-growth would allow much more plants to grow and thus capture a lot of CO2. I think the biggest uncertanity there was for how -long- the CO2 would stay out of the atmosphere.

If a significant fraction of the dead plants sink, retention would be good, hundreds of years at the very least. If most of them decompose near the surface and the CO2 is released from the water, there wouldn't be much benefit.

Re:global warming (1)

saforrest (184929) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011188)


If a significant fraction of the dead plants sink, retention would be good, hundreds of years at the very least. If most of them decompose near the surface and the CO2 is released from the water, there wouldn't be much benefit.


Erm, if they decompose in the water and release tons of CO2, won't it turn into carbonic acid and decrease the water's pH? (It wouldn't be by a lot, but the whole point to this is that small changes may produce systemic effects.)

Re:global warming (1)

cbart387 (1192883) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011566)

Wouldn't make much of a difference either way to global warming.
Maybe not but from the marine life perspective, I'm sure they'd approve of this ;)

Re:global warming (1)

OwnedByTwoCats (124103) | more than 6 years ago | (#23012098)

The best we can hope for is the increased biomass sinks, is covered by silt, heated and compressed, and turns back into oil.

Emperor's clothes (2, Interesting)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010252)

A very pretty picture is painted for what amounts to environmental vandalism. (paraphrasing): "We are creating a tropical paradise, where diversity parallels that of the Galapagos Islands. The majestic undersea garden will support myriad species, the colours and the life will rival any natural environment, and will, in fact, surpass anything that nature could create. We are dumping this waste in the ocean for the common good. The beautiful seaweed will dance a serenade, attracting fishes and tourists alike. Because the trash increases the potential habitats (and micro-climates), species diversity must increase--niche species which would otherwise have difficultly surviving will flourish.

Yes, dumping rubbish is the sea is a Good Idea(TM). The secret is out!

Re:Emperor's clothes (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010520)

why do you hate marine animals? because this is giving them new habitats, being opposed to it must mean you want little flipper to go without a home.

Oh I hope they know what they are doing (5, Informative)

slew (2918) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010258)

I remember a long time ago when people tried to dump old tires in the ocean with the thought that they could form the basis for an artificial reef. Apparently that didn't work out so well... [usatoday.com]

Maybe it'll work out better this time...

Re:Oh I hope they know what they are doing (4, Funny)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010386)

They also have dumped a considerable amount of nuclear waste and nerve gas into the oceans. Don't worry though that was decades ago and the barrels should last 50 years.

Re:Oh I hope they know what they are doing (3, Informative)

rampant poodle (258173) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011514)

Fortunately there is a big difference between old tires and subway cars, (in both the composition and mass). This is more like sunken ships. Ships of wood, steel, and concrete have provided excellent marine habitat for a very long time. Those that are sunk intentionally as reefs get stripped/cleaned of hazardous materials before going down. Wartime and accidental sinkings aren't as "green" - but still work pretty well.

In a previous life I worked on fishing boats out of Indian River Inlet. There was already a good selection of wrecks in the area, including an U-Boot from WWII. All the wrecks are hot spots both for fish and for divers.

A glimps of the future? (1)

bluemetal (1269852) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010294)

Sound to me like we are actually creating a picture of the future seen in so many sci-fi films. Like, you are on the planet earth thousands of years in the future and everything is underwater and the earth has reclaimed it's resources, shaped by man long ago, and turned them into pseudo-natural landscape. Kind of like the end of that movie AI. Except we don't have to wait for civilization to be obliterated. We can do it ourselves!

Similar attempt with car tires was a disaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23010326)

A similar thing was attempted with used car tires. It did not work. The surface of the tires was not suitable for sea life to attach to. In addition to that, individual tires got loose from the packages and drifted with the currents. It was a disaster. Now they are attempting to retrieve what they can. Please give a link if you know the details. I think it was in Florida or somewhere on the east coast.

1 million years into the future... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23010414)

Future Fisherman : Look what I found at the bottom of the sea.

Future schmuck : See! More proof of God!

New generation of fish (1)

hashax (1190057) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010582)

Nemo: Dad I wanna go for a ride on the subway current! Dad: you kiddin petrol prices are up the roof! besides when we were your age we stuck to our schools.

If only... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23010664)

...there'd been some kind of situation, perhaps a war, that had deposited large numbers of relatively stable metal objects on the sea floor, where their effect on local flora and fauna could be studied over, say, 63 years.

Unfair swipe at Deloreans (1)

Radak (126696) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010692)

The vast majority of Deloreans ever made are still on the road, driving, in good condition. I'd call these the Yugos of the deep instead.

Re:Unfair swipe at Deloreans (2, Informative)

LMacG (118321) | more than 6 years ago | (#23012706)

Point, head, you, whoosh, etc... The subway cars clad in stainless steel are called the DeLoreans of the deep.

Give them to another city instead! (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010696)

Couldn't these cars be given to another city or town?

A train is pretty expensive (e.g. refurbishing old trains in London is costing £1million per train, it's several times that amount for a new train). Fair enough if the subway trains in New York are too outdated to be refurbished, but if this isn't the case they should be in another city that can't afford new trains.

(For one example, the Pyongyang Metro in North Korea uses old trains from subways given to them by East Germany.)

Re:Give them to another city instead! (2, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010776)

The only other cities in America with metro systems are happy with their own trains, and unfortunately due to the American lack of interest in public transporation, metro systems aren't spreading much to new places.

By the way, are you familiar with the rumour that the Pyongyang Metro isn't actually in public use? Some say that it is only run when foreigners tour it, and everybody on board are actors.

Re:Give them to another city instead! (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010994)

Fair enough. I looked through some of the Wikipedia articles for old subway trains used in London, it seems almost all of them are scrapped at the end of their life (about 50 years in total, with refurbishment within the last 10-20 years of their life).

I can see an American city not wanting the old trains -- it's probably not too good for public image -- but other countries might.

I am familiar with that rumour, but there's also a report from a BBC journalist who slipped his 'guide' in Pyongyang. He doesn't say if it was running or not though: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/995692.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Story underplays the most important fact (3, Funny)

benwiggy (1262536) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010796)

Did no-one else notice the most important part of this story?

You can get subway cars for free!

I'll have five, thanks.

Food for Fish (1)

arigram (1202657) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010858)

How about also throwing some politicians and lawyers along with the cars to feed the fish?

(too bad Windows is just software)

Bricked! (1)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 6 years ago | (#23010930)

Damn you, Apple! Why do you keep turning my subway cars into bricks after every other update?

        Sorry, I couldn't resist.
          -dZ.

Only for gangsta fish! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23011070)

What self-respecting aquatic citizen would voluntarily like to live in one of these grafitti-covered wagons?

Somehow this seems TOO convenient (2, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011074)

All of these "artificial reef" projects seem questionable to me.

The idea that tossing junk into offshore waters is beneficial... well, as the Church Lady used to say, "Isn't that convenient?"

In the 1970s, there was a similar project in Florida, involving discarded tires. The system used to hold the tires in place failed after a few years, tires started to come loose, the fact that it wasn't stable made it a failure as an artificial reef, mildly toxic stuff started to leech out of the tires, and the whole thing was an environmental disaster. The process of cleaning up the tires, now in progress, is expensive and labor-intensive. Read about it here [wikipedia.org]

The sea is a very corrosive environment. Before starting this project, did anyone check to see whether there are any subway cars that have already been in the ocean for a few decades to see what's happened to them?

In the case of these subway cars, I'd worry about copper. Copper is deadly poison to most marine organisms. It's the bane of people who try to set up salt-water aquaria.

I notice that the article doesn't say that the subway cars contained no electric wiring. Nor does it say that all the copper was removed from them before scuttling them.

Re:Somehow this seems TOO convenient (1)

fprintf (82740) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011182)

I wonder what happened to all the old ships that went down full of copper? All those sunken U-boats and merchant ships in WWII? You think that maybe the fish worried about it? Nope. More than likely they colonized it just the same, though we can't say for sure whether it took any longer for colonization to happen because of the copper, mostly because SCUBA hadn't been popularized yet for us humans to observe and track. Regardless, there are tons of modern wrecks from accidental sinkings (e.g. no time to clean the boat beforehand) that have been colonized very quickly.

The difference between your salt water aquarium and the open ocean is the volume and exchange rate of water. In your aquarium you have a fixed supply of water and it only takes some fixed time before the absorbtion (if that is what happens here, I forget my chemistry) of copper into the water reaches a critical, fatal level. None of the fish in the tank can escape to a less-copper rich area. On the other hand, in the big wide ocean you may get pockets of concentrated copper-water in areas of a wreck where the water doesn't move, but elsewhere will be flushed clean pretty regularly. There are no wrecks I have dived on that haven't had some current running across them. Then the copper is diluted into the larger ocean where it becomes inconsequential.

Re:Somehow this seems TOO convenient (3, Insightful)

vbraga (228124) | more than 6 years ago | (#23012326)

Due to diffusion, you really shouldn't get pockets of concentrated copper-water. Nature dislikes concentration gradients (Fick's Law of Diffusion [wikipedia.org] ).

Re:Somehow this seems TOO convenient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23012496)

The idea that tossing junk into offshore waters is beneficial
By definition, aren't all waters offshore?

Great Idea. (3, Funny)

RandoX (828285) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011164)

They should do this with barrels of nuclear waste too.

Was tried. Is not regarded as nice by coast folk (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011536)

Like UK in the 70th they dropped some within the channel between France/UK.

Littering? (2, Funny)

egandalf (1051424) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011230)

Then why did I get arrested for pushing a car into the local river? I was trying to help the environment, people!

Fish housing market (1)

xgr3gx (1068984) | more than 6 years ago | (#23011822)

Yeah - but because of the sub-prime mortgage market messing up the economy and real estate market, the fish are all moving out, and now the luxury fish condos have turned into a dilapidated ghetto. These once pristine condos are now high crime areas mainly inhabited by "Rock Crabs", known for selling crack cocaine.

Pretty SAD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23011950)

This is realllllly disturbing to read, they are trying to justifying their need to trash the ocean and rid of their unwanted cheaply. RECYCLE, the price of metal is rising, why not just hand this to CHINA, they are more than willing to take any 'trash' America throws away. Besides they will only make cheap products back to us at a higher (profit) cost.

Great Neal Stephenson quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23011970)

The first one his I read was Zodiac - The Eco Thriller, and then Snow Crash. And then I bought every book he's ever written 'cause I liked his interesting points of view and writing style. So with all due respect, or apologies to, Mr. Stephenson - here's a great quote from the protagonist of the novel. It's Sangamon Taylor, the Granola James Bond (Errr, The Toxic Spiderman, right!):

... The intern had also discovered a vague little article from the late Sixties saying that Basco had put some "junk machinery" on the floor of the Harbor, giving the usual feeble excuse.

"They claim that this junk was going to become a habitat for marine life. You don't buy that?"

Bless her, she did know how to blow my lid. "Rebecca, goddammit, since the beginning of time, every corporation that has ever thrown any of its shit into the ocean has claimed that it was going to become a habitat for marine life. It's the goddamn ocean, Rebecca. That's where all the marine life is. Of course it's going to become a habitat for marine life."

Tires (-1, Redundant)

Sethus (609631) | more than 6 years ago | (#23012138)

I remember hearing about some story where in the 70s or 80s they dumped a bunch of tires in some reef in the Atlantic hoping to revitalize it. Well, the tires then proceeded to poison all of the wildlife, not only hurting the sealife but killing it off completely. I really really hope they thought this through completely.

The Onion writes for Slashdot? (0, Troll)

Se7enLC (714730) | more than 6 years ago | (#23012248)

I had to re-read this article a few times. They can't be serious.... Dumping trash in the ocean and calling it a good thing??

CSI:NY (2, Informative)

airship (242862) | more than 6 years ago | (#23012362)

They used this in one of last season's episodes of CSI:NY. They found a dead scuba diver, and that led them to discover another one lodged in a submerged subway car.

Such a Shame... (1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 6 years ago | (#23012402)

...Those were perfectly usable housing for the downtrodden masses of the declining United States.

Oil rigs and marine life (2, Interesting)

penguin_dance (536599) | more than 6 years ago | (#23012486)

This reminds me of the people that complain about oil rigs in the environment and yet they create some of the best fishing areas [sportfishingmag.com] around for the same reason. The rigs become a reef environment.

Subway in the ocean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23012628)

I completely misread this. I thought they were talking about a "different" Subway, and thought they were going to make an artificial reef out of Jarod.

Man, my bubble has burst.
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