A popular Long Island vacation destination is getting a little less festive with the passing of a rare balloon ban.
The East Hampton Town Board announced that it has unanimously voted in favor of legislation that will ban the intentional release of balloons in the area. Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, who sponsored the legislation, said that the idea behind the new law was to cut down on litter and to protect wildlife that ingests popped balloons.
“Balloons waste natural resources, litter our communities, pollute our waterways and kill wildlife,” the new law states. Balloons are defined as any “flexible, nonporous bag made of materials such as rubber, latex, polychloroprene or nylon fabric.” The ban would apply to balloons filled with helium, hydrogen, nitrous oxide, oxygen, air or water.
Officials noted that weather balloons, hot air balloons and balloons released indoor are exempt from the law.
“I have observed the horrific consequences of discarded balloons on marine wildlife,” Kimberly Durham, the necropsy program coordinator of the Hampton Bays-based Atlantic Marine Conservation Society reportedly stated to the Board. “Ingestion, whether directly or indirectly, through their food is a major threat to New York’s marine mammals and sea turtles.”
East Hampton reportedly becomes the first town to pass such legislation in Suffolk County, where law permits the release of up to 25 balloons at a time. Those caught violating the new law in East Hampton will face a fine of up to $1,000 and time in jail.
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