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It’s not every day you see a series of photos clearly documenting someone with
a front end loader pushing industrial waste directly into the ocean without any care of
secrecy or stealth. Photographer Stephen Mallon captured this series of pictures
over three years to document the unusual methods that New York City uses to
dispose of its subway cars, but before you jump to conclusions, be sure to scroll all the
 way to the bottom, because this dumpinghas a secret purpose!

New York City has developed a special way to get rid 

of broken-down subway cars…

Custom barges are loaded high with subway cars and carried out to the cold icy depths in the middle of the ocean.

They use construction equipment to push the subway cars over the edge, splashing into the waters…

The cars go over the edge one by one…

It may seem like a wasteful act of reckless pollution, but there is a deeper purpose behind this odd method of disposal…

Each subway car will be left on the ocean floor, to be assimilated into the ecosystem.

Over time, every surface will be covered in life, creating an artificial coral reef system.

Every metal pipe, edge, ridge, and corner provides surface area for coral ecosystem.

Here’s what it looks like after 5 years…

… and here’s what it looks like after 10 years.

The process of creating artificial reefs has been a great help to restoring areas damaged by human activity. Engineers have even sunk an entire aircraft carrier to turn it into a reef ecosystem. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have damaged the ocean floor in the first place, but steps like this can help to repair the destruction.
At first, Stephen Mallon‘s photos tend to lead viewers to jump to the conclusion that this is a terrible act of pollution, but the truth is something much more beautiful. This tension and discomfort is what makes his work so powerful.

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