Prohibition of Thai wish balloons

Prohibition of Thai wish balloons - De Telegraaf, August 14, 2009
[Published on 14 August in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. Thanks to Pieter for pointing this out.]
Amsterdam - The fire department would like to prohibit the popular wish balloons. These burning lanterns, frequently launched at weddings and birthdays, create according to the fire fighting organization NVBR a large risk for buildings and forests. The low flying objects are also a risk to traffic.
The NVBR (Dutch association for fire fighting and disaster management) requests a prohibition on the sales and launching of these Thai, Chinese or Vietnamese wish balloons. As a rule they provide a negative advice when private persons or companies apply for a launch permit at the local authorities.
Confusion
According to spokesman Frank Huizinga there are plenty of examples of fires and near-fires caused by the lanterns. In May of this year a thatch roofed villa in Loosdrecht caught fire and burned down. In addition, the flying objects cause commotion and confusion. Last week fire engines in the Soest area tried in vain to locate a hot air balloon which according to a caller went down burning.
Huizenga: "The balloons are made of vulnerable materials and the wind has a free play with them. The chance of a confrontation with a fixed object is therefore large. The circumstances for a safe launch are limited. 'Use your brain', they say. But these balloons are launched at parties. It is the question if - after consuming alcohol - the brain is fully utilized". In recent days also the farmers organization LTO made critical remarks: cows could be poisoned by the materials of the balloon. Last year also the Aviation Police declared itself to be against  balloons. Also the Coast Guard wants an end.

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