Bill to ban open burning set to be heard before committee

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House Bill 11, a bill to stop the open burning of toxic munitions in the State of Louisiana, will be heard in the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment Wednesday.

Rep. Gene Reynolds, District 10, author of the bill, says a couple of pending amendments have been made, including removing the military and state police from it and making it effective in 2018.

“The military burns small amounts of munitions for training purposes,” Reynolds said. “The state police use training materials that put off a lot of smoke as well. The two years is because the company needed time to change methods and this would give them time. If we don’t put the amendments on the bill, it has no chance of getting out of committee. It has its best chance of getting out of committee with those two amendments on there. It has a long a way to go. This is only the first step in a six-step procedure.”

Since the session opened, HB 11 has had considerable backlash from companies and lobbyists around the state, Reynolds said.

“They don’t want to spend any more money,” he said. “We can’t have it both ways. Burning this type of stuff is dangerous and that’s why we shouldn’t do it anymore. We’re not trying to put them out of business. We just want them to do it cleanly.”

The bill came in the wake of the explosion that rocked Camp Minden and surrounding areas in 2012, and later when the Environmental Protection Agency was going to move forward with open burning approximately 16 million pounds of demilitarized M6 artillery propellant and clean burning igniter.

When law enforcement discovered the massive amounts of M6 improperly stored at Camp Minden, Explo Systems Inc., went bankrupt and its top officials were arrested on various charges related to the improperly stored munitions.

The community fought back by forcing the EPA and various government agencies to come together to find a healthier solution, thus, the contained burn system with a pollution abatement system was built.

The first live fire took place in early April, and following testing of the abatement system, within 30 days, Explosive Service International, the contractor hired to destroy the M6, should begin full destruction.

Reynolds says in a post to constituents that this is the right step.

“If we can get a clean process in place like Camp Minden, there are billions of dollars to be made,” he said. “So we are on the right side of the issue. Now let’s make some good decisions.”

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