Annual Fireworks Show Conductors Sued for Polluting Alamitos Bay

The Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation sued the Naples Restaurant Group LLC and John Morris in the Central District of California on Tuesday for declaratory and injunctive relief as well as civil penalties.

The defendants have held and organized an annual July 3 barge-launched fireworks show in Alamitos Bay, ear Long Beach , Calif., every year since 2011. The plaintiff had filed suit against them due to their express violations of the Clean Water Act since they “have discharged and continue to discharge fireworks debris and pollution into Alamitos Bay and the Pacific Ocean without a permit.”

The complaint explained that Alamitos Bay is home to two endangered species, the California brown pelican and the California least tern. The pollution on behalf of the defendants compromises the habitat of these species and many more, such as clam beds, anemones, octopus, and California horn snails. The complaint details that “during the 2021 Big Band on the Bay fireworks show, adjacent Snowy Egret and Western Gull nests were monitored and adults and chicks showed signs of stress as a results of the fireworks.”

According to the complaint, the firework debris releases fuses, toxic metals, and chemical residue into the surrounding water; any discharge destined for a body of water needs to have a permit, as detailed by the Clean Water Act. Therefore, the plaintiffs say that no residual firework waste can enter the Alamitos Bay without a permit being obtained.

The repercussions of the fireworks show held by the defendants is purportedly harmful to the “special aesthetic and recreational significant that the Receiving Waters [Alamitos Bay and the Pacific Ocean] have for the people in the surrounding communities, including the Plaintiff’s members.” These impacts to the public enjoyment of the area are in addition to the harmful environmental and ecosystem degradation that the fireworks debris has induced over the past 10 years, the plaintiffs concluded.

The complaint cites discharges of pollutants without an NPDES Permit, a count for which the plaintiff is seeking favorable judgment for violation of the Clean Water Act, civil monetary penalties for the violations, an injunction preventing the defendants from discharging further pollutants in the absence of a permit, and an order requiring the defendants to take action to restore the areas they damaged.

The plaintiff is represented by Coast Law Group LLP.