South Lake Tahoe’s SnowGlobe sued for excessive levels of cancer-causing benzene
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The SnowGlobe Music Festival has long been a point of contention for many who live in a neighborhood near the event and complain about noise, which the City of South Lake Tahoe has made efforts to police under its policy and monitor decibel levels.
However, another issue that’s been under the radar with the SnowGlobe festival is air quality concerns. But after the 2018 festival, the Center for Environmental Health initiated litigation against SnowGlobe after finding too much benzene in the air.
“Many music festivals use a variety of diesel-powered items including the generators and buses and trucks,” Caroline Cox, a scientist with the Center told the Tahoe Daily Tribune. “We were concerned about the amount of benzene that these diesel combustion produces so we measured benzene levels at the SnowGlobe music festival and they were above the level set under California’s Proposition 65.”
Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, lists benzene as causing cancer and reproduction toxicity.
“We were really focusing on the reproductive harm because the typical audience at a music festival is younger people, so there are a lot of young women that either could be pregnant or want to get pregnant, so we’re concerned about protecting those people,” Cox said.
According to the Center for Disease Control, exposure of smaller amounts for long periods of time can be dangerous.
In January 2019, the Center for Environmental Health provided SnowGlobe with a 60-day notice of violation of Prop 65. Then on Dec. 20, 2019, the Center filed suit against the festival.
Cox said SnowGlobe is attempting to work with Center for Environmental Health and a consent judgment has been filed, essentially a settlement.
“One thing the festival is exploring is whether they could get electric power to the site, the other thing they’re looking at is biodiesel for their buses which decreases emissions,” Cox said.
SnowGlobe representatives did not respond to calls or emails seeking comment for this story.
While the City of South Lake Tahoe is not named in the suit, officials have fielded complaints from residents about the festival.
In an email from former City Manager Frank Rush, he said the city found out about the lawsuit a few days following the 2019 festival.
“My understanding is that the lawsuit stemmed from the 2018 event, and that SnowGlobe made appropriate adjustments and was in compliance for the 2019 event. I don’t expect this issue to impact the City’s agreement with SnowGlobe in any way,” Rush said.
He also said the city was concerned with the issue and thought it might be more beneficial to target the generator manufacturer rather than the festivals.
A trial regarding the motion for consent judgment is set for March 17 at the Alameda County court.
Laney Griffo is a reporter for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun based in South Lake Tahoe.