Thursday, April 03, 2008

The aftermath of Paintball tournament in HB

Crews have been working around the clock to clean up the paint left over from last week’s Super 7 World Series of Paintball, which drew about 70,000 spectators to see more than 1,500 competitors battle it out in Huntington Beach.

Dante Giuliano, operations manager for event, said a crew of about 75 people has been picking up paintballs from 6 a.m. to midnight to clean up the aftermath. They’ve been literally on their hands and knees plucking balls from the sand, and scooping them up with a shovel with holes that allows the sand to sift through.

Mike Martin was driving down Pacific Coast Highway when he heard a pop-pop-pop noise under his car. When the Huntington Beach resident saw what made the racket, there was orange paint under his wheel well, tires and bumper.

“The street was covered in them, you couldn’t dodge them,” he said. “They were still cracking and popping and squirting all over.”

The mess on Martin’s car occurred after balls accidently came out of a dumpster and landed at the intersection of Beach St. Wednesday morning.
Giuliano said he and four other workers had it cleaned up within a few hours. Giuliano said the paintballs are 100 percent biodegradable.

“It comes off very quickly with water alone,” Giuliano said. City spokeswoman Laurie Payne said the city gets complaints every year about the event, but clean up crews are allowed a week to get the beach back to normal.

The event brings about $480,000 in revenue to the city, and the event organizer pays for the clean up. And the paint isn’t actually paint, it’s a water-soluble substance, she said.
Giuliano said part of the consequence of a fun event is the clean up afterward. “Afterward, we hit it like gangbusters to make it clean,” he said. “I personally can’t leave the beach with a clear conscious if it’s not.”

Environmental crews are on hand to monitor the effort, he said. They will be out there until Friday. “A large portion of the crew is Huntington Beach residents, we take pride in the places we live,” said Giuliano, who helps put up the infrastructure for the U.S. Open of Surfing and Boardfest, an all-girls event held in fall. “This is the beach I come to, this is the beach I bring my kids to, Giuliano said.

Martin still wonders why the city would allow paintballs at the beach. “It’s just ridiculous,” he said. “I’m glad they have someone cleaning it up.”

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