For many, residual ash from municipal solid waste combustion had been seen as a problem. Frank Roethel, a chemical oceanographer, saw it as an opportunity.
During his research in the 1980s, Roethel found a way to stabilize the ash and successfully constructed artificial reefs. In 1990, with the permission of state regulators, he built a structure on the campus of Stony Brook University in New York. The Boathouse was made out of 14,000 ash bricks and has been standing ever since.
"People have claimed it was going to be a problem for the longest time, but it never precipitated into a problem," said Roethel.