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Camp Minden groundwater safety focus of workshop

by Minden Press-Herald

DOYLINE — The Environmental Protection Agency hosted a community workshop and open house Thursday to present data to the public regarding Camp Minden’s groundwater and give history of the site.

Col. William Myer, chief the environmental programs division of the Army National Guard and geologist, gave a presentation explaining his job and the data collected since the installation assignment to the EPA in 1978 of the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant to present regarding groundwater and soil.

He says monitoring wells are set up around the perimeter of Camp Minden and throughout the base to monitor any contamination that might come up, and since the cleanup of the so called “red water ponds,” after its designation as a Superfund site, the damage to soil and groundwater have greatly diminished over the years.
The area of focus was on Area P, where the red water ponds were located, and a topographical view of the entire military base show the flow of water from surface water all the way down to aquifer water.

Dr. Brian Salvatore, one of the first to blow the whistle on the open burn process of nearly 16 million pounds of M6 demilitarized artillery propellant improperly stored at Camp Minden, showed concern about the water flow in the Boone Creek area, where he felt any potentially contaminated groundwater might escape. He called it a “perfect storm of worry.”

“I just think that though you are not getting detections there, you need to maybe get some concentrators and get down as low as you possibly can, because it seems like that is a big concern,” Salvatore said.

Boone Creek flows into Dorcheat, which flows into Bistineau, and groundwater under Camp Minden feeds Boone Creek. The major concern there is about surface water filtering into the shallow groundwater, Salvatore said.
Myer answered, saying all the tests and monitoring of the groundwater and soil have come back negative for contamination, but it will certainly be something they can look at.

“We can look at that, but I don’t know if we’re going to get any different results,” he said. “We did the investigation, we did the remediation and we’re monitoring groundwater quality. Historically, from the samples we’ve done, we haven’t had any surface water detects (problems).”

Myer spent some time going over the geology of Camp Minden, showing how the contamination to the ammunition plant began and how it was cleaned up.

Essentially, the munitions companies, at that time, were trucking wastewater from manufacturing to ponds where that water was allowed to sit, evaporate and soak into the soil.

After the site was put on the National Priorities List in 1989, Myer says remediation began and the soil from those old ponds was dug up, treated and returned to its origin and “capped off” with red clay, impermeable dirt that does not allow water through.

Since the site cleanup in the late 80s and early 90s, the contamination levels, according to their data, continue to diminish, but there are still some very small areas in Area P that still register above what scientists deem safe to human and environmental health.

Myer also spent some time going over the process by which action is taken on environmental cleanups, from the time they know about contamination until post-remediation, when the area has been returned to its natural state.

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