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ESI gets green light for M6 disposal

Explosive Service International has been given the green light to begin full destruction of the remaining 15 million pounds of demilitarized M6 artillery propellant at Camp Minden.

Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that it has completed its review of and approved the comprehensive performance test for the contained burn system.

Ron Hagar, chair of the Camp Minden Citizens Advisory Group, says this is good news for the citizens.

“They said they got the most dangerous stuff first,” he said. “We’re still concerned about the writing in the performance test to make sure they didn’t exempt themselves from the EPA standards that were set for emissions in some of the redacted statements, but that’s just a formality. I think everyone’s been happy about how it’s been going to date, and it is good news that they passed the test and they are starting in full-time operation.”

The expedited report for the destruction of M6 showed the system destroyed 99.99 percent of the chemicals of concern, which include the chemicals found in M6 and clean burning igniter. The results of performance tests conducted in May, reviewed by the EPA and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, showed the contained burn system could safely dispose of the unstable explosive material, resolving the years-long risk to the surrounding community. The Continuous Emissions Monitoring System Relative Accuracy Test audit confirmed the accuracy and reliability of the continuous emissions monitoring system.

“The safety of the Camp Minden community has always been our priority in managing this site,” EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry said. “Today, we see the efforts of citizen leaders and our government partners pay off. By including community voices in the decision process, we found a solution that accounted for everyone’s concerns.”

EPA, along with the Louisiana Military Department and LDEQ, created an unprecedented partnership with the citizens of the Minden community to develop a plan for disposal that would not affect the area’s environment, especially air quality. Once the contained burn system begins operating at full capacity, destruction of all the M6 propellant will take about a year, officials said.

The state-of-the-art contained burn system was specially constructed for the Camp Minden site and includes one of the most advanced pollution abatement systems in the world, ESI officials said. The system was designed, built, and transported to the site in just eight months in order to start disposing of the deteriorating explosive material as quickly as possible. EPA and LDEQ also approved the Operating Parameter Limits for the system.

Public safety will remain the highest priority during the disposal process, EPA officials said. With oversight from EPA and LDEQ, LMD will closely monitor and report on emissions from the unit and air quality in the surrounding community. Daily reports and other information are available to the public at https://www.epa.gov/la/camp-minden.

ESI also keeps a dashboard of information related to daily activities at the site at www.esicampminden.com.

EPA, LDEQ and Louisiana Military Department continue to work closely with the Camp Minden Community Advisory Group, which meets monthly to share information with the surrounding community. Under the Technical Assistance Services for Communities program, Dr. Slawo Lomnicki, assistant professor of Environmental Sciences from Louisiana State University, provides independent assistance to explain and review information to the community.

To date, 1.4 million pounds of the propellant has been destroyed and five magazines, or bunkers, have been emptied.

Minden Press-Herald

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