Helping Local Law Enforcement Manage Confiscated Fireworks
Celebrations like the fourth of July often include spectacular displays of fireworks. While thrilling to watch, fireworks, both legal and illegal, pose threats to human health and the environment. Unburned fireworks may be hazardous because they are “reactive” (i.e., may be explosive), and may pose risks since they are “toxic” (may contain toxic metals and perchlorate). Each year, the Office of the State Fire Marshal seizes tons of unburned and confiscated fireworks.
Thousands of tons of consumer fireworks (Link removed – destination no longer available) are shipped into California each year, a fraction of which are confiscated by local law enforcement. The type of fireworks confiscated in a particular city or county depends on local regulations. Confiscated fireworks may include “safe and sane” (Link removed – destination no longer available)consumer fireworks, as well as illegal fireworks (Link removed – destination no longer available) such as M-80s, cherry bombs, and unknowns or homemade fireworks.
At the request of the State Fire Marshal, DTSC identified and evaluated potential treatment technologies for managing large volumes of confiscated fireworks. The Office of the State Fire Marshal, in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies, is responsible for the safe disposal of fireworks.
DTSC’s Technology Development Branch identified and evaluated fourteen technologies used by the explosives and ammunition industry as potential disposal alternatives for fireworks. Eleven treatment systems and three off-site facilities were identified as possible alternatives to open burn/open detonation. The treatment systems reviewed typically involved combusting or detonating fireworks in an enclosed chamber. Some units were equipped with air emission controls but the type of controls varied widely.
State Fire Marshal Project
On May 4, 2009, DTSC and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Under the MOA, DTSC agrees to give Cal Fire one million dollars that DTSC obtained from a pyrotechnics manufacturer as a Supplemental Environmental Project under a Modified Consent Judgment. Cal Fire agrees to use the money exclusively to manage fireworks seized by the local enforcement agencies. The State Fire Marshall, an office within Cal Fire, has the statutory mandate to manage seized fireworks which are hazardous waste in most cases.
DTSC is also developing regulations that will authorize the State Fire Marshal to own and operate the mobile units to treat seized fireworks; the regulations will apply only to the State Fire Marshal. The regulations include technical and operational requirements that will protect human health and the environment. If you are interested in these regulations, DTSC invites you to sign up on the DTSC ListServ dedicated to the issue of fireworks.(Link removed – destination no longer available)
For more information
- Consumer Product Safety Commission Consumer Fireworks
- California State Fire Marshal’s Safe and Sane Fireworks
- California Code on Illegal Fireworks (HSC 12500-12706)
Government Web Sites
- DTSC Hazardous Waste Emergency Permits
- DTSC Out of State Facilities that Accept and Treat Explosive Hazardous Waste
- State Fire Marshal’s Fireworks Program
- Department of Transportation Hazardous Materials Forms (Link removed – destination no longer available)
- Consumer Products Safety Commission
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms: List of Explosive Materials (2010R–27T)
Other Fireworks Related Regulations
- Consumer Product Safety Commission Regulations (Link removed – destination no longer available)
- Department of Transportation Regulations (Link removed – destination no longer available)
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Regulations
- Fireworks Treatment Technologies
- Los Angeles Jewelry Mart Pollution Prevention
- Extended Oil Change Intervals
- Assessment of Zero Valence Iron Permeable Reactive Barrier Projects
- Perchlorate Contamination Treatment Alternatives
- On-Site Fluorescent Lamp Crushers
- In-situ Bioremediation of Chlorinated Solvents