RIVERHEAD, NY – At the June 18, 2019 General Legislature meeting, Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker introduced legislation to ban the intentional release of helium balloons in Suffolk County. Introductory Resolution 1611-2019 will amend Chapter 310 of the Suffolk County Code which currently allows the release of up to 25 balloons.
“Through research and data, we have a better understanding of the devastating effects that the release of latex and Mylar balloons – and balloon ribbon – have on our sea life. One balloon released is one too many,” said Legislator Sarah Anker.
The fines for intentionally releasing helium balloons start at $500 for the first violation, $750 for the second violation, $1000 for the third violation, and thereafter. If approved by the Legislature, the law will go into effect within 90 days of the date that the bill is signed by County Executive Steve Bellone.
In addition, the law will also require businesses and organizations that sell helium balloons to display a sign at the point-of-sale stating “IT IS UNLAWFUL TO RELASE HELIUM OR LIGHTER-THAN-AIR GAS BALLOONS IN SUFFOLK COUNTY.”
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), balloon debris can be easily mistaken for food and ingested by animals, and balloons with ribbons can entangle wildlife. Balloon debris can also have an economic impact on communities by contributing to dirty beaches, and can cause power outages when entangled with power lines.
The Eastern Long Island Chapter of the Surfrider Organization collected 774 balloons on 38 beaches from June 2017 to December 2018. In February of this year, East Hampton Town voted to ban the intentional release of balloons in the town.
“The beaches in my legislative district, that includes the coastline from Mount Sinai to Wading River, are greatly impacted by environmental pollution, in particular plastics and balloons. It’s time we take responsibility for keeping our oceans clean and become better stewards of our environment. The limit to protecting our sea life is as vast as our oceans,” said Legislator Anker.
For more information please call Legislator Anker’s office at 631-854-1600.