Lawsuit challenges South Shore fireworks
A Zephyr Cove couple is challenging the ability of Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority to put on fireworks shows without a permit to discharge debris or pollutants into the alpine lake.
The allegation is that, without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, its twice-annual fireworks shows are violating the Clean Water Act.
Joan and Joseph Truxler filed the lawsuit against Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority and Pyro Spectaculars North in federal court in Sacramento in November.
Joan Truxler was unhappy with trash that washed up on PineWild Beach and other East Shore beaches after a July 4 fireworks show.
Over the next month and a half, Truxler reportedly picked up enough fireworks debris to cover 60 square feet. Some of the pieces had Pyro Spectaculars North’s name on them, according to the lawsuit.
Truxler reportedly observed similar debris problems after a Labor Day fireworks show Sept. 1.
The lawsuit briefly mentions surface water sampling done around the fireworks barges in 2001 and 2002. That sampling found higher levels of perchlorate and nitrate after the fireworks shows, but the lawsuit does not raise arguments about their potential to harm public health or the environment.
Mike Lozeau, a Bay Area attorney representing the Truxlers, said they decided to file the lawsuit after contacting local agencies with concerns and getting no response, other than from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, which Lozeau said has no authority to regulate discharges into the lake.
“The goal is to make sure that the mitigations for the fireworks shows are as robust as possible. They do try to pick up the trash, but obviously they haven’t been able to get it all,” Lozeau said.
The lawsuit alleges identifiable point sources need a permit to discharge pollutants into navigable bodies of water.
“The federal law kicks in whenever you have a point source,” Lozeau said. “Here you have hundreds of mortar pipes that shoot things off into the lake, so it’s pretty obvious you have a discharge triggering the permit requirement. For whatever reason, the agencies haven’t paid much attention to that.”
The Truxler family is not trying to end the fireworks shows, but wants ...
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