Burbank may ban sale of foil balloons

first_imgWhen the metallic balloons touch two power lines at the same time, the contact can cause an outage, said Greg Simay, assistant general manager for Burbank Water and Power. “You can go for months without it being a problem, and then all of a sudden you’ll get a rash of them, as we did in May and June, and that brings it to everyone’s attention,” he said. Burbank had an outage May 19 that affected 412 customers, another one June 3 that left 460 customers without power, and two on June 7 that left more than 2,078 customers in the dark, Simay said. All the outages were blamed on the balloons. In the past eight years, 14 percent of the city’s 266 outages were caused by the balloons, Simay said. Marty Fish, executive director of the Kansas-based International Balloon Association, said her organization also does not want to see the metallic balloons go skyward. “We do not recommend the release of foil balloons into the atmosphere anywhere,” she said. “Latex balloons are one thing, but foil balloons are quite another, because they’re not biodegradable, and not because necessarily we think they’re going to cause a power outage.” Ramos said if the council decides to ban the sale of the metallic balloons, it would probably not go into effect before the beginning of next year. She also said the city is mindful that balloons can migrate into Burbank from neighboring communities. Burbank might need to cooperate with neighboring cities to solve the problem, she said. Luis Torres, the manager at Burbank Party Supplies, said that when he sells a balloon, he does not weigh it down unless the customer buys the weight. He would like to see a demonstration of how the balloons cause outages, because he rarely sees them tangled in wires, he said. [email protected] (818) 546-3304160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “Ultimately, (an outage) costs not only the utility and the residents downtime, but it costs businesses downtime,” said Mayor Marsha Ramos. “While they’re (the balloons) beautiful and colorful, they’re a problem.” Burbank Water and Power is not the only utility that has a problem with the balloons. Southern California Edison reports 404 outages caused by foil balloons last year. Between 2000 and 2006, SCE customers suffered 2,233 outages caused by balloons, according to the utility. The balloons come in all shapes and sizes. There are superhero balloons, graduating-class balloons and heart-shape balloons for Valentine’s Day. State law requires that the balloons be sold tied to a weight so they don’t drift away, but the law is widely ignored. BURBANK – Those shiny, silvery balloons that carry birthday greetings and other cheery missives may put smiles on children’s faces – but they’re giving utility officials a big headache. The helium-filled party favors are made from metalized nylon and can cause power outages when they come into contact with electrical lines. In Burbank, officials are blaming at least four recent outages on errant balloons, prompting two City Council members to ask for a report Tuesday to find out how officials can deal with the problem. One of the options under consideration is a ban on the sale of the foil balloons in the city. last_img

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