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Advisory group questions redactions in M6 test burn plan

by Minden Press-Herald

Members of the Camp Minden Citizens Advisory Group are questioning redactions in the comprehensive performance test plan released Friday.

Members of the Camp Minden Citizens Advisory Group discuss the comprehensive performance test plan released by Explosive Service International Monday. Portions of the plan were redacted, citing confidential business information. Michelle Bates/ Press-Herald

Members of the Camp Minden Citizens Advisory Group discuss the comprehensive performance test plan released by Explosive Service International Monday. Portions of the plan were redacted, citing confidential business information. Michelle Bates/
Press-Herald

In the CMCAG meeting Monday, they questioned whether they would be able to see the sections and other portions of the 166 page document that have been blacked out from the public eye. At the beginning of the document, it clearly states portions were blacked out due to “confidential business information.”

When the Environmental Protection Agency learned about the redactions, they immediately issued a letter telling officials with El Dorado Engineering, the company that built the contained burn system at Camp Minden, they would have the final say in determining confidentiality. In the letter, officials issued a set of parameters to determine the confidentiality. David Gray, EPA Region 6 director of external affairs, issued a statement saying transparency is one of the fundamental attributes that must be adhered to.

“EPA encourages the Louisiana Military Department’s contractor to reconsider the redactions made to their CPT plan released late last week and immediately make additional details available to the community,” he said. “Transparency has been fundamental to our joint effort to destroy the M6 and CBI at Camp Minden. Under federal procedures, EPA is moving forward to challenge the redacted Confidential Business Information (CBI) submitted by LMD’s contractor but the process can take weeks to resolve.”

In the plan, the first pages of the document give reasons by El Dorado Engineering as to why portions of the document were redacted, citing the “document contains confidential, proprietary or trade secret information.”

Ron Hagar, CMCAG chair, claims the Clean Air Act states that CPTs are not subject to proprietary blackout, and they are working to get Dr. Slawo Lomnicki, a Camp Minden dialogue committee member, an un-redacted copy of the CPT plan.

“He is our past expert who’s going to be representing the CAG at the actual CPT,” Hagar said. “He’s been approved by the EPA as our representative, and he was one of the people with Wilma (Subra) who was representing the public in the dialogue committee and the contract negotiations.”

The CPT is a test in which the contractor demonstrates its compliance with emissions standards set forth by state and federal agencies.

Subra, a chemist and technical advisor, submitted a report to the CAG Monday that questioned the lack of access to the redacted portions as there may be issues that cannot be commented on. The report also questioned other scientific aspects of the plan as well.
To that end, discussion centered heavily on the public having access to the report, and the CAG having unrestricted access to the plan. Greg Fife, EPA on scene coordinator, says they are looking into whether Lomnicki will have unrestricted access to the plan before the CPT takes place. However, there is a chain of command on how the CAG communicates with Lomnicki.

“Skeo Solutions is set up to do the technical assistance service for communities,” he said. “Skeo hired Lomnicki as the expert on the CPTs and the unit itself. He knows the system, and we’re working to get him to observe the CPT right alongside the EPA, DEQ and our other experts to watch and monitor the CPT.”

Skeo Solutions is contracted out by the EPA on the national level, and the TASC “provides independent assistance through an EPA contract to help communities better understand the science, regulations and policies of environmental issues and EPA actions,” according to EPA’s website.

Comments will be taken until Friday, May 13, on the website at http://geauxguard.la.gov/camp-minden-m6/camp-minden-documents/ The CPT will take place following approval of the EPA.

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