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Jan 15, 2019 3:41 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Town Board Considers Banning Balloon Releases

East Hampton Town will propose a law to ban the intentional release of balloons, which frequently litter beaches and are seen as a hazard to marine life. County law currently allows for the legal release of up to 25 balloons. Michael Wright
Feb 18, 2019 10:51 AM

East Hampton Town officials plan to introduce legislation this week that would ban the release of balloons from anywhere in the town, in an effort to reduce the number of balloons that end up on local beaches and in the ocean, where they can kill marine life.

Town Board members said they support the legislation and hope that the town’s move will spur Suffolk County and New York State officials to follow suit with similar laws.

The board will introduce the legislation on Thursday night, January 17, and schedule a public hearing for next month.

“What goes up, must come down,” Town Trustee Susan McGraw-Keber said, applauding the bill proposed by the Town Board on Tuesday, displaying an image of a whale that she created out of balloons as part of an effort to raise awareness of the problem. “Turtles eat jellyfish. They see a mylar balloon, they think it’s a jellyfish and eat it. The balloon industry will tell you mylar is biodegradable—it is not biodegradable.”

The Town Trustees have been selling T-shirts this year that promote keeping balloons out of the ocean.

The proposed new law will apply only to the intentional release of balloons, but also demands that any balloons used as decorations or at parties be disposed of properly and not abandoned.

“Obviously, we aren’t going after 3-year olds who cant hold onto their balloon … and we’re not keeping kids from being able to have balloons at their birthday parties,” Assistant Town Attorney Nancylynn Thiele told the Town Board on Tuesday. “But you can’t just cut them and walk away.”

Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said that the real intention of the law was not to snare people violating it, but to draw awareness to the problems created by released or abandoned helium balloons that are released but eventually fall back to land or the ocean surface.

Ms. McGraw-Keber said that Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming and State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. have both applauded the bill and said they hope to push similar restrictions at higher levels of government.

County law currently expressly allows for the intentional release of up to 25 balloons at a time.

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This is good news . Ban the intentional release
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jan 17, 19 7:23 AM
2 members liked this comment
There is absolutely NO reason whatsoever that the intentional release of balloons should be allowed. The fact that there is a law on the books allowing it is absolute insanity. Our beaches are our greatest asset on the East End, this ban is a simple way to help further protect that asset.
By Enviro Guy (55), Southampton on Jan 22, 19 8:13 AM