Friday, July 19, 2013
A move by Murrells Inlet 2020 to ascertain the effects of fireworks on the salt marsh has run into a roadblock — not enough information and no way in a short amount of time to get the information.
“A colleague said ‘not to worry,’” said Susan Libes of Coastal Carolina University’s Department of Marine Science.
“But I wanted a more qualitative study. We have different perceptions on the risk,” she told a Murrells Inlet 2020 study session on July 9.
The issue arose after a group of Inlet restaurants began Monday Night Lights, a series of 10-minute fireworks displays being set off over the marsh.
Zambelli Fireworks, which puts on the show as well as the Fourth of July display, has never personally commissioned any environmental studies, the company said in response to questions from Murrells Inlet 2020.
The issue is further compounded by the effect of the tide on the salt marsh and whether the particulates from the displays would be washed away with the tides.
Also a concern is the effect of heavy metals on fish and shellfish.
“We just don’t know,” Libes said.
Another problem with the displays, at least initially, was the debris — cardboard and paper — left on the marsh by the explosions.
But there was no way to tell if they were from the official display or other fireworks being set off by individuals.
The questions posed add to the concerns being addressed from current monitoring of water quality in the Inlet and the salt marsh.
One of the mandates of Murrells Inlet 2020 is to “utilize conservation and preservation methods to secure quality wetlands for future generations of residents and visitors to appreciate.”
To that end, the group is monitoring for fecal coliform and other pollutants that have resulted in the closing of some area oyster beds.
A watershed study is being completed that will provide further information, but the fireworks displays on a weekly basis are new and not included in the study.
“You’re going to have to make an assessment based on limited information,” Libes said.
By Anita Crone
For The Times