Critics: July 4th Fireworks Damage Southern California Environment; Are Demanding Action in Court

by on February 13, 2023 · 2 comments

in California, Environment

By Grace Toohey / Los Angeles Times / Feb. 9, 2023

A growing debate over the possible environmental damage caused by fireworks shows, especially over waterways, recently erupted in federal court where climate activists are pushing for stronger regulations of a popular Independence Day celebration in Southern California.

While fireworks have for years been known to cause significant air pollution — with July 4 and 5 recording some of Southern California’s worst air quality days — activists and attorneys with the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation want officials to help minimize the damage fireworks pose to waterways when the pyrotechnics debris and chemicals sink into the ocean or other water sources.

The conservationists’ latest target is the Big Bang on the Bay July 3 fireworks show in Long Beach, which draws large crowds for the yearly display that lights up the night sky over Alamitos Bay. The environmental rights group wants to see the early Independence Day show admit it is a “discharger” of pollutants into the bay, and therefore required under the federal Clean Water Act to meet certain standards and mitigation plans. The organizers of the Long Beach show reject the idea that the fireworks cause significant damage to the bay.

That debate landed last week in federal court, with a ruling on the case expected in the coming weeks — a decision that could possibly affect the permitting process for other coastal fireworks shows across the state, including those in Marina Del Rey, Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach.

“We’ve been working on getting Clean Water Act compliance for fireworks discharges over water going on 18 years,” said Livia Borak Beaudin, one of the lead attorneys suing the organizers of the Long Beach show. While a victory in court wouldn’t result in an outright ban on fireworks shows over water, it would require stricter permitting for the shows to better protect waterways.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

nostalgic February 13, 2023 at 6:12 pm

Ocean Beach has taken this to heart and is looking at a laser light show instead of a chemical display. I could not see the complete LA Times article. Does it provide any information about the type of show OB is considering? Most fireworks are manufactured in China because they are considered too dangerous to make here, or at least they used to be. Well, at least we stencil pictures of whales on the storm-drain inlets.


Vern February 13, 2023 at 6:32 pm

It seems that OB is considering laser light, drones and other A/V tools. All these options (and others) have been used around the world for years.


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