On a night when America celebrated its independence, the picturesque Pacifica beaches that are a destination for thousands of Bay Area residents each year more closely closely resembled a Third World toxic dump, according to a Montara woman who along with a friend, spent the night of the Fourth combing the beaches for fireworks debris.
Sue Pemberton and fellow coastal resident Myrna Faulds removed enough fireworks remnants to fill buckets totaling 35 gallons that she believes would have been swept to sea by an incoming tide.
Environmentalists say fireworks debris contain toxic pollutants that can kill marine wildlife if ingested.
Pemberton called the experience an "eye-opener," and is urging fellow coastal resident to demand Pacifica ban the sale of legal fireworks.
Pacifica is among a handful of Bay Area cities and two in San Mateo County allowing the sale of so-called "safe and sane" fireworks. San Bruno is the other.
Pemberton said getting as many of the fireworks remnants off the beaches as possible before a six-foot tied rolled in was critical to protecting the coastal waters.
Local groups that profit from the sale of legal fireworks are required to clean up the beaches of Pacifica the day after Fourth of July celebrations, but Pemberton said the such measures are woefully inadequate considering the massive amounts of toxic debris that littered beaches on the night of the Fourth she observed.
"The beach looks like a war zone," Pemberton said in an email to the Pacifica Beach Coalition, a local environmental group that so far has taken a neutral stance on the city's policy allowing the sale of so-called "safe and sane" fireworks.
Pemberton said she and Faulds saw some setting off fireworks properly discarding the remnants in buckets, but said they were in the minority.
The on the night of the Fourth and on Saturday.