Special to the PRESS
As an environmentalist, birder, and sea turtle volunteer, I find it unconscionable and extremely hard to understand why the South Padre Island Convention & Visitors Bureau would underwrite a non-eco-friendly event to the tune of $35,000 and allow it to go forward for a second time!
Sky lanterns fall back to Earth as harmful litter. Although they are marketed as biodegradable; that has been proven NOT to be the case. Some were found intact weeks after last December’s festival on the north end of the island; others were collected the day after the event and left in water many, many days to prove that this wasn’t so. It has been found that the chemically treated paper, bamboo ring, string attachments, and fuel cell can last over a year, polluting our island and risking harm to marine and other wildlife. Fallen sky lanterns will kill animals that become entangled in the string or ingest other lantern parts – a slow, agonizing death. The bamboo ring can become a death trap to any curious animal.
These sky lanterns are an uncontrollable fire hazard. They have caused serious burns and sparked massive wildfires and structure fires, even burning down homes. Some lanterns were subsequently found in residential areas of the island; how did they get there when southerly winds were blowing the day of the event? Did the organizers allow people to take them, to be released somewhere other than the festival site? Releasing sky lanterns is in violation of international fire codes, which require fires be constantly attended until extinguished.
Entire countries and many states have banned the use of sky lanterns – why does SPI feel they are OK here? Are the many dangers these lanterns pose really worth a few minutes of oooohs and aaaaahs by crowds of people who haven’t really thought at all about the consequences ?
(For more information and references, visit BalloonsBlow.org)
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