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Citizens Advisory Group stands behind M6 method

Ron Hagar, Citizens Advisory Group chair, (standing) discusses how the group works and welcomed representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Louisiana Military Department. Others in attendance included many members of the Camp Minden Dialogue Committee formed after community members learned of the dangers of open tray burn. Michelle Bates/Press-Herald

The Camp Minden Citizens Advisory Group is standing behind the method chosen to remove the millions of pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden.

Concerns were raised during the meeting surrounding the contained burn method chosen to eradicate the nearly 16 million pounds of M6, but David Madden, who took the initiative to try to find a way to get rid of it a few years ago, explained the process by which the propellant will be destroyed.

The Maddens, at first, threw their hat in the ring to bid on the removal of the M6, but backed out “for moral reasons.”
They’d built a closed incinerator to get rid of the M6, but after talking with representatives at El Dorado in Utah, found there was a better incinerator. And even with that better incinerator, the dialogue committee put stricter stipulations on environmental protections. Madden called it a “filter on top of a filter.”

Even with differences of opinion on which method should have been chosen, they all agreed it was time to stand behind that decision.

“It is super important for us to coalesce around them and what we don’t need to do is find five more roadblocks to throw at them,” he said of ESI and El Dorado, the company subcontracted to construct the incinerator.

Sam Mims, an advocate for the method of supercritical water oxidation, says the method has been chosen and agreed with Madden that it’s time to come together and support the decision that’s been made.

“We really shouldn’t be having, internally, any more discussion about who or what’s going to be the contractor,” he said. “We need to put that discussion to bed. We don’t have time to be squabbling. We need to get behind this one particular bid and make it the only one that we have. We went through a dialogue process. There should be no discussion on any other option other than this one.”

Madden commended the CAG and the dialogue committee for changing the method of disposal.

“Because of you, they’re going to create the world’s best, cleanest, most efficient and safest air scrubbing system that man can build,” he said. “NASA can’t build one better than the one you all specified. Looking from the engineering and how it works, I can go to sleep tonight, tomorrow, next week, and I’m not worried about it. They’re (EPA) not going to let somebody sneak up on us and pull the wool over our eyes. I’m proud of y’all. You went through the process and saved our environment.”
Dr. Brian Salvatore, also a dialogue committee member, says he feels confident in the contained burn method with the pollution abatement system that will be on equipment.

Also of concern is the time it will take to construct the equipment and implement the M6 destruction. According to a tentative timeline released by the Environmental Protection Agency, it will take approximately five months to construct the incinerator and then another 12 months to destroy the M6 at a throughput rate of about 63,000 pounds per day.

Baseline water sampling as well as any contamination that might occur during the destruction process were also concerns.

“We feel it’s our responsibility to keep as close a tab as we can, and the monitoring is the way to do that,” Ron Hagar, CAG chair, said. “The baseline water monitoring is going to assure us that when it’s all finished there’s no more M6 in the water than when we started.”

Adam Adams, on scene coordinator for the EPA, says the remediation project manager is working on water baseline sampling at Camp Minden.

“I’ve already had communication with him, and I’m trying to get his information and also talk to his water guru, and bring it all together,” Adams said.

The CAG is in the process of building a website as a way to distribute information gathered from the EPA, results from air, water and soil monitoring as well as information from the CAG meetings.

The next meeting will be June 8 at a place yet to be determined. The meeting for June only will be moved to another site due to scheduling conflicts.