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Burn chamber heats up WPPJ meeting

by Minden Press-Herald

Emotions ran high when a vote to add the burn chamber resolution to the agenda did not happen at Tuesday’s Webster Parish Police Jury meeting.

The jury added recreational funding from the police jury’s recreation funds to help fund training for a clerk at the Ward I Marshal’s Office, but when the request to add rescinding of the resolution that states the jury is against the burn chamber staying, Parish Attorney Patrick Jackson said in order for it to go on the agenda, it had to have a unanimous vote.

However, John Madden, the one who made the request, asked to have it placed on the agenda days before it was completed and posted.

In an email to Secretary Treasurer Ronda Carnahan, Madden had asked that it be placed on the agenda on March 21, and again on March 28. In the March 28 email, he asked for two reports to be passed out to jurors dealing with emissions from the three performance tests on the burn chamber by METCO.

“They were two requests made that were not dealt with fairly,” Madden said. “All we’re doing is pushing it back and pushing it back hoping this poll will come back in the negative, and if that poll comes back out in the affirmative to keep it, all that says is that we’ve got 12 members up here that are anti-business in Webster Parish.”

He made it clear he was not asking the jury to take a stance, merely rescind the resolution and take a neutral stance. That’s when the emotions began to flare.

Juror Dustin Moseley, District 12, questioned Madden asking him why this is being discussed again. Juror Nick Cox, District 6, said a decision should have been made Tuesday; however, Jury President Jim Bonsall said it wasn’t possible because they could not add it to the agenda. In light of that, a special meeting has been called for 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, April 11, to settle the matter.

“I don’t trust polls, and that’s why I’m under the great conviction to go ahead and do it now, before the polling comes out to make a decision,” Cox said.
“We’ve had so much time to gather data, we’ve had so much time to gather facts, we’ve had so many opportunities to ask these guys questions and run them through the mill. They have done our community a favor. That’s why I say do it before the poll. Don’t let a poll make our decision.”

“The people who have been run through mill are the citizens of Webster Parish,” Moseley responded. “The citizens of Webster Parish fought tooth and nail to have it put into the contract before the burn chamber ever even showed up in Webster Parish – the citizens of this parish decided at that time that they did not want this to be permanent. It is very unfair to the citizens of Webster Parish to have to re-fight a battle they won two years ago and run them through the mill and go through this whole ordeal again.”

Jackson explained the reasoning for not putting the resolution vote on the agenda, saying the law had been that it takes a two-thirds majority vote to add something to the agenda. If it involves money, then the vote has to be unanimous, he said. However, the law recently changed to dictate that any addition to an agenda must have a unanimous vote.

Jason Poe, vice president of Explosive Service International, the contractor destroying the improperly stored M6 propellant, said a lot of misinformation has been disseminated, but the test results from the pollution abatement system attached to the burn chamber speaks for itself.

“We’re very disappointed that we couldn’t get on the agenda Tuesday, especially since several jurors indicated that they regret passing the resolution,” he said. “There has been a lot of misinformation and hysteria whipped up by the Citizens Advisory Group. The jury has been provided with the scientific data from the three stack testing events, which prove conclusively that the contained burn chamber produces no harmful emissions. We look forward to answering any questions that the police jury may have in the future.”

To date, approximately 15 million pounds, or 95 percent, of M6 has been destroyed.

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