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Pacifica Beaches Resembled 'War Zone' on Night of Fourth, Cleanup Volunteer Says

Montara woman collected 35 gallons of toxic fireworks remnants on the night of the Fourth. She's urging Pacifica residents to demand the city ban the sale of legal fireworks.

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.

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PKIV July 09, 2012 at 04:56 PM
I would rather have them do it at the Beach, then at home (and they will do it Legal or not) as far as the Toxic waste, that is real stretch. On the Other hand, dog shit is and Rude Dog owners leave it all the Time in Mannor!
Annie Coots July 09, 2012 at 05:38 PM
A big thank you to Sue Pemberton and Myrna Faulds for thinking to clean the beach before the tide came in!
Sue Pemberton July 09, 2012 at 07:11 PM
I bet if you walked the beach in Manor and found firework debris for the next 6 months, you'd change your tune. That's the issue I'm talking about today. We'll deal with irresponsible dog owners another day. Fireworks are made with chemicals and they are toxic.
Senor Gigante July 09, 2012 at 11:12 PM
I agree. Why does Pacifica continue to allow residents from all the other cities that are smart enough to ban fireworks to come over and trash the beaches? I never got that. The city should just do one big fireworks display off the end of the pier or another agreed upon location if they want to bring people over her and keep the beaches clean.
David R July 10, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Changing the clean up requirements is a great idea. Banning fireworks is not.
Lionel Emde July 10, 2012 at 04:48 AM
Why?
momof2 July 11, 2012 at 04:41 AM
I am just so DONE with both the illegal and legal fireworks here in Pacifica! Back of Linda Mar was complete chaos. We live next to a vast forest and ocean. We can celebrate the 4th in other ways that don't destroy the environment.
Elizabeth Monticue July 11, 2012 at 04:33 PM
People think the ocean will 'clean the beaches'. In a sense that is true, in that the debris and trash is taken out to sea by the tide. But that just moves the nasty stuff out of sight, and in reach of the residents of our oceans, to whom the nasty stuff is toxic and deadly. I agree with the proposal to ban fireworks on the sand, and allow them on the parking lots. Of course, if people were not such slobs and cleaned up after themselves, removing their trash from the beach, we would have much less of a problem. That said, thank you to those who DID clean up their mess, and a BIG thank you to Sue and Myrna for their heroic efforts!
Jo Tog July 12, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Japan Tsunami debris is on it's way. Get ready to clean up a real toxic mess.
Debs Carsey July 12, 2012 at 06:09 PM
How hard would it be to simply change the cleanup requirements for the fireworks vendors to 4th of July instead of the 5th? If they are so into fireworks one would expect them to be where everyone is shooting them off. BTW: the community shown in the images looks like a great experience, why not just educate those there? Why can't the vendors supply MORE TRASH CANS so that people will dispose fireworks on their own? Why don't the vendors EDUCATE their customers? Why not offer up severe fines for shooting off fireworks after the 4th and for littering on the beach, say $500? That ought to pay for the city's efforts to keep them clean....people are still shooting off fireworks around Manor/Rockaway and it's July 12Th! Why can't the vendors be required to have 1 representative report to each beach for a "cleanup coalition" etc?? There are SOOoo many solutions, it bugs me when everyone just wants to ban everyone, even though I'm as angry as anyone about people littering, whether that is dog poop, people poop or fireworks.
Pacificat July 12, 2012 at 11:07 PM
If by vendors you mean the local groups that sell the fireworks, you should know that they are required to help clean up on the morning of the 5th. Now, if by vendor you mean the company that makes the fireworks and sells them to the local groups, I think that's a helluva good idea. I'd like to see the fireworks company required to be out there on the 4th and picking up all the litter that they create.
Cris July 15, 2012 at 03:29 PM
You can educate people all you want, it still may not make them realise they need to clean up. Heck, in the 70's we got all sorts of lessons about cleaning the environment, yet I see my generation driving around in15-mpg trucks/suvs, smoking and leaving trash behind. People are lazy and selfish at the core. Education only does so much. There is a grain of truth in Hobbesian philosophy...
hutch July 17, 2012 at 06:37 PM
This was a mild 4th by all accounts. Only 5 tickets issued this year. So why all the uproar this time. Children and families in Pacifica love the fireworks. No reason to ban them. Just restrict use to streets or parking lots. A few people are always complaining every year. I see most people in my neighborhood out there either setting off fireworks or watching. Can't we have any fun anymore?

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