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Lake Tahoe authority sued for chemical pollution over fireworks

January 15, 2014
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A federal lawsuit has been launched against the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority by a couple from Nevada who claim that debris from the fireworks on Independence Day and Labor Day has polluted the waters of the lake.

If the U.S. District Court in Sacramento rules in favor of Joseph and Joan Truxler, the tourism agency and its contractor running the fireworks shows might face fines of up to $75 million. The Truxlers say they do not aim to stop the spectacular display that attracts thousands of tourists, but they accuse the authority and state regulators of failure to protect the lake from chemical pollution. The papers submitted to the federal court claim that over a period of five years the authority has violated the federal Clean Water Act "thousands of times."

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The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority and its contractor Pyro Spectaculars North Inc. must respond to the suit by Feb. 10 at the latest, the Associated Press reported. The two parties have been accused of polluting the lake with trash, debris, munitions and chemical residues, such as perchlorate, nitrate and sulfur. The lawsuit also accuses them of not having obtained the necessary discharge permit and states that the discharge is in violation of water quality standards of California and Nevada, which strictly ban pollution of the Tahoe Lake.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Margot Perez-Sullivan told the Associated Press that the agency could not comment on the lawsuit because states were in charge of issuing permits.

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