$36 million cleanup set for Minden ammo site

By Bonnie Cuolverhousr
Journal Correspondent

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for Region 6, in cooperation with the Louisiana Military Department (LMD) and Army National Guard Headquarters, has been hosting workshops and an open house to ensure the public is well aware of progress to dispose of more than 16 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden between Minden and Doyline, Louisiana.

The illegally and improperly stored M6, a toxic propellant in grenades and artillery rounds, was left behind by now-bankrupt Explo Systems Inc. and discovered by Louisiana State Police during the investigation following an explosion in October 2012.

The State of Louisiana entered into a contract with Explosive Service International (ESI) on June 17 to conduct the destruction of approximately 15,687,247 pounds of M6 propellant and approximately 320,890 pounds of Clean Burning Igniter currently stored at Camp Minden.

The initial contract is for $19,292,648 and is expected to be increased to approximately $34-$35 million dollars. This is based on receipt of additional funding that comes from the U.S. Treasury's Judgment Fund on behalf of the U.S. Army for the work.\

"LMD's signing of the contract for the alternative technology for the disposal of M6 and CBI is an important achievement, EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry said. "We have been working closely with LMD to ensure the contractor is informed upfront of the federal and state environmental requirements that the work plan must address to protect the public."

Concurrently, ESI was issued a Notice to Commence Work for the contract from the Office of State Procurement.\par }{\plain "The signing of this contract is a significant step forward in the destruction of the M6 and CBI at Camp Minden," Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard said. "Now they can begin the process of constructing the contained burn system."

"This contained burned incinerator has an advanced pollution abatement system that ranks it among the world's most technologically advanced incinerators," said Brian Salvatore, a chemistry professor at LSU Shreveport. "I am comfortable with the LMD's selection and agree with the EPA's decision to move forward with it."

Salvatore said he supports the stringent emissions monitoring system being implemented to make sure this incinerator is safely operated at its optimal capacity. "The NOX scrubber recommended by the EPA for the Camp Minden contained burn is actually even better than the standard one," Salvatore said. "This one will use SCR (selective catalytic reduction)."

In response to intense citizen opposition to the open burn disposal of M6 explosive stored at Camp Minden, the EPA sponsored the formation of a Dialogue Committee whose function was to investigate and propose safe alternative solutions to the open burn.

The Citizens Advisory Group led by Ron Hagar and a 20- member board meet on the second Monday of each month at Doyline Baptist Church. Elected officials and other concerned citizens are invited to join and attend the monthly meetings. For more information about CAG, contact Ron Hagar at hagaron@att.net .

In November a workshop is planned to help the community understand data collection and analysis. A definite date has not been set.\par }{\plain Camp Minden is almost 15,000 acres in size and located in Webster Parish, Louisiana.

The facility was formerly known as the Louisiana Military Ammunition Plant which is a National Priorities List Superfund site primarily because of problems caused by groundwater contamination and remediation is on-going.