SnowGlobe Music Festival sued for excessive levels of cancer-causing benzene

The Snowglobe Music Festival at South Lake Tahoe in 2018.
Tribune file photo

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The SnowGlobe Music Festival has been a point of contention for many in South Lake Tahoe.

Many people that live in the neighborhood near the event complain about sound and the city has made efforts to police its policy and monitor the decibels.

However, one issue that’s gone relatively under the radar with SnowGlobe is air quality concerns.

After the 2018 festival, the Center for Environmental Health initiated litigation against SnowGlobe after finding that there was too much benzene in the air.

“Many music festivals use a variety of diesel powered items including the generators and buses and trucks,” CEH senior scientist Caroline Cox told the 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.”

Prop. 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.

In January 2019, CEH provided SnowGlobe with a 60-day notice of violation of Prop 65. Then on Dec. 20, 2019, CEH filed a suit against SnowGlobe.

Cox said SnowGlobe is attempting to work with CEH 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 did not respond to calls or emails from the Tribune.

While the City of South Lake Tahoe is not named in the suit, they’ve taken a lot of heat 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 after 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.

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