Los Angeles launches fireworks buyback program to tackle pollution, accidents
- The government has announced a fireworks buyback program to be held on Wednesday
- The initiative will make it possible to anonymously hand in illegal explosives to police
- The move is targeting the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles in particular
Owing to the drought in the city of Los Angeles, the government has announced a fireworks buyback program to be held on Wednesday, ahead of the US July 4 holiday, which will make it possible to anonymously hand in illegal explosives to the police in exchange for baseball tickets and other gifts.
The majority of California is under extreme drought conditions, according to the US Drought Monitor, creating parched vegetation and conditions ripe for wildfires.
The initiative is targeting the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles in particular, an arid area susceptible to fires.
In addition to the increased risk of fire and injury, fireworks launched by individuals also aggravate air pollution. According to air quality control authorities, the concentration of fine particles in the air on the night of July 4, 2020, was 70% higher than in previous years.
Talking about the situation, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said, "last year with the pandemic and the necessity of cancelling public-sanctioned fireworks shows, we saw a 72% increase in calls" concerning illegal fireworks.
In total, more than 6,000 calls were received and more than four tons of fireworks were seized, he added.
Moreover, Moore warned that police would act against retailers and manufacturers who sell the products illegally.
Furthermore, last week, the Los Angeles city attorney ordered major internet platforms -- including Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist -- to remove posts selling fireworks within Los Angeles or face legal action.
Accidents and mishaps relating to fireworks are a regularity in Los Angeles and the city of Pomona, east of Los Angeles, is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest of people selling or storing fireworks illegally.
Meanwhile, in neighbouring Ontario, two people died last March when a large stock of fireworks exploded in the house they were in.